A Lancet medical journal reports that Singapore was placed among the top-ranked countries for global health (alongside Iceland and Sweden) in 2016, but some worrying health trends still persist.

The obesity rate among young adults, aged 18 to 39, doubled from 1992 to 2013; and one in three Singaporeans are projected to develop diabetes in their lifetime.

To build a sustainable healthcare system and keep Singaporeans healthy, the Ministry of Health (MOH) announced three key shifts in healthcare at its Committee of Supply debate on March 9, 2017.

They are Beyond Healthcare to Health, Beyond Hospital to Community, and Beyond Quality to Value. In announcing this, Minister for Health Gan Kim Yong said, “We will build a strong foundation in preventive care starting with our young. We will develop future ready healthcare workforce, which has the skills and confidence to provide good quality and good value across all settings, including in the community.”

“Towards this, the government will structure the healthcare system to support strong partnerships, be it in primary care, eldercare, community and mental health, or in nurturing a healthy community,” said Minster Gan.

MOH has set aside $10.7 billion to drive these shifts. The measures that will benefit Singaporeans include:

  • $5 or less for health screenings. From September 1, 2017, eligible Singaporeans can screen for diabetes, high blood and cholesterol levels, obesity, and colorectal and cervical cancers for $5 at clinics under the Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS). CHAS cardholders will pay $2, while Pioneers will not have to pay.

  • Controlling diabetes. MOH will roll out a Diabetes Risk Assessment tool to help Singaporeans aged 18 to 39 assess their risk of undiagnosed diabetes, and determine the need for screening.

  • Boosting mental health. Frontline staff from government agencies, including the police, are to be trained to spot and respond to mental health cases in the community. More than 130 social service agencies will be trained to support people with mental health conditions. Polyclinics will also be equipped to provide mental health services.

  • Improving palliative care. MOH will strengthen end-of-life care for Singaporeans by expanding Advance Care Planning (ACP), building closer partnerships with the sector to enhance palliative care, and facilitating home palliative care.

  • Encouraging General Practitioners (GP) to join Primary Care Network (PCN). A new PCN scheme will be introduced to help GPs better manage patients with chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes and high cholesterol levels. The virtual network will allow doctors to pool resources and monitor their patients more closely.

  • More medical centres. Two new Family Medicine Clinics in Keat Hong and Tampines, and two polyclinics in Pioneer and Punggol, will be in operation starting this year. There will be more opened by 2020.