Take the war on diabetes to the workplace

At the Public Health Thought Leadership Dialogue: Driving Singapore's War on Diabetes organised by the Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health on Nov 14, some members of the audience asked whether the war is really being waged equally in all segments and sectors.

Since the majority of Singaporeans spend a third or more of their day at work, employers have a crucial role to play.

The screening of taxi drivers for chronic diseases while they wait for their taxis to undergo monthly servicing is a good workplace health practice ("Health checks for cabbies and cabs"; Sept 2, 2014).

But more can be done across all professions.

The Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Act has been in force since 2006. In the past decade, its emphasis seems to have been more on safety than health.

While safety is important, having at least equal emphasis on health would send the right signal to support the war on diabetes.

The Workplace Safety and Health Council should consider integrating facets of the anti-diabetes war plan into WSH 2018 Plus, which sets out the national vision and long-term strategic outcomes.

With three in 10 Singaporeans getting diabetes before turning 40, and one in three having a lifetime risk of developing the disease, there is no more time to lose.

Li Ze Zong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 19, 2016, with the headline 'Take the war on diabetes to the workplace'. Print Edition | Subscribe