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Healthcare in Singapore Shifts Towards Preventive Care

elderly Singapore

Singapore is moving towards a healthcare strategy that focuses on providing preventive solutions in a bid to combat an ageing population. 

In a remarkable testament to the power of strategic healthcare planning, a 76-year-old Singaporean today enjoys a health status similar to an average 65-year-old globally, bested only by Japan. This remarkable achievement comes from three decades of meticulous planning and investments in healthcare, with a blueprint laid out in the White Paper on Affordable Healthcare in 1993.

Promoting Good Health

Singapore’s healthcare approach has strongly promoted good health, with initiatives like planning new townships to enable walkability. This holistic perspective on health has successfully brought down premature deaths from diseases like cancer and heart conditions.

Rising Rates of Chronic Diseases

Despite these successes, challenges loom large with rising rates of chronic illnesses such as hypertension and high cholesterol.  This is linked to a rapidly ageing population. Since 2010, hypertension in the population has increased from 19.8% to 31.7%. Also, high blood cholesterol affects 36.9% of adults, up from 26.2%.

Addressing the Challenge: Healthier SG

In response to these escalating rates of chronic diseases, Singapore is set to transform its healthcare approach once again. Spearheading this transformation is Healthier SG, a national preventative and chronic care programme unveiled this month.

Overcoming Systemic Mismatches

Key to this transformation is addressing two fundamental mismatches in the current healthcare system. Firstly, there is a disconnect between hospital care, largely provided by the public sector, and primary care, primarily delivered by private practice GPs. Secondly, the predominance of solo or small group GP clinics and many small community service providers hampers the necessary scale for team-based chronic disease management.

An Ambitious Initiative in Singapore

The launch of Healthier SG aims to rectify these issues. The initiative will facilitate better digitalisation and data sharing across different parts of the health ecosystem, enabling GPs to form a more extensive network with improved data flows.

Incentives will be provided to GPs to spend more time on preventative care and chronic disease management. Additionally, they will be partnered with one of three public health clusters for clinical and specialist support.

In essence, Healthier SG is a major transformation initiative. It aims to bolster the health system, manage the challenges of population ageing and rising chronic disease burden, and lay the groundwork for future healthcare innovations.

Conclusion

Singapore’s healthcare system has made significant strides over the past decades. However, the increasing prevalence of chronic diseases presents a new challenge. The launch of Healthier SG signifies the nation’s commitment to addressing this health crisis. It shifts the current system to prioritise preventative care and better manage chronic illnesses. Consequently, through this initiative, Singapore continues to set the standard in healthcare innovation.

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