Free health screenings, vaccinations among plans for those registered under Healthier SG initiative

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SINGAPORE: As part of a new strategy to foster preventative health care for Singaporean citizens, those who register with a family doctor could benefit from fully subsidized recommended screenings and vaccinations.

The Department of Health (MOH) submitted a Healthier SG Strategy White Paper to Parliament on Wednesday 21 September following public engagement with residents, healthcare professionals, community partners, insurers and other stakeholders over the past six months. The White Paper will be debated in Parliament in October.

The Healthier SG initiative, which aims for citizens to take charge of their own health, consists of having residents register with a single doctor, either a general practitioner (GP) or a polyclinic doctor, who will accompany residents in their health needs throughout their life.

Under the plan, residents who sign up for Healthier SG – which is voluntary – can schedule a face-to-face on-boarding health consultation, which will be paid for by the government. Residents will then develop health plans with their physicians, who will continue to monitor the resident’s progress through follow-ups.

Health plans will include an overview of the resident’s health status, medical needs and health goals and will be followed by a plan of action, such as lifestyle adjustments or weight management.

On Wednesday, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung told reporters that the ministry had consulted thousands of people and considered feedback from general practitioners and residents to design the initiative.

Announced during the MOH Procurement Committee debate in March 2022, Healthier SG will be open to people 60 and older – approximately 1 million people – to enroll in the second half of 2023. It will be gradually made available people aged 40 to 59. in the next two years.

The strategy is part of the government’s efforts to address two major challenges – the aging population and the growing impact of chronic diseases – through preventive care.

By 2030, one in four citizens is expected to be 65 or older, compared to one in six today. Chronic diseases, such as hypertension and hyperlipidemia, have reached high levels, affecting 32 percent and 37 percent of the population respectively, the health ministry said.

The ministry noted that while people who see a regular family doctor are generally in better health and visit emergency rooms and hospitals less often, only three in five Singaporeans have a regular family doctor.

“We invite residents to go to a general practitioner of their choice. You can choose one near you. Choose the one who is part of your panel of doctors in your company. relationship with the clinic,” Mr. Ong said.

He added that a lasting resident-physician relationship is necessary for preventive care to work.

“Then the doctor will know your conditions really well, and even better, know your family’s conditions well, and can advise, persuade, harass you to help you stick to your health plan.”

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