War against diabetes: Feedback and suggestions wanted to get people to live healthy

A diabetic patient undergoing dialysis treatment at Kim Keat Dialysis Centre.
A diabetic patient undergoing dialysis treatment at Kim Keat Dialysis Centre. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The next step in the nationwide war against diabetes will take the form of a six-month crowdsourcing exercise to learn what is stopping people from living healthily, said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong on Saturday morning (Sept 24).

Mr Gan, who heads the 16-member diabetes prevention and care taskforce along with Acting Minister for Education (Schools) Ng Chee Meng, added that he and his team will also be looking for suggestions on how to motivate Singaporeans to take better care of their health.

Apart from reaching out to regular Singaporeans, they will also be speaking with representatives from the food and beverage industry, non-governmental organisations, and academia.

Supporting the task force will be three workgroups, which will think of strategies to motivate people to live healthy, help existing diabetics manage their condition, and engage and educate the public.

"Today, there are about 400,000 Singaporeans with diabetes," Mr Gan said. "By 2050, about one million Singaporeans will have diabetes if nothing is done."

The war against diabetes will focus on four elements: being aware, eating right, adopting an active lifestyle, and taking control.

The six-month public engagement exercise will be conducted in two phases. The feedback gathered will contribute to a diabetes action plan that the Ministry of Health (MOH) will roll out progressively in 2017.

The first phase of the exercise, from September to December, will focus on identifying the barriers, gaps and issues preventing Singaporeans from adopting a healthy lifestyle.

It aims to gather suggestions on how to promote healthy eating and regular physical exercise, and how to encourage Singaporeans to go for recommended health screenings and follow-ups.

The Health Promotion Board (HPB) and its partners will hold a series of focus group discussions and dialogues in locations such as workplaces and community venues.

The key target groups for the first phase include young people, women, working adults, mature workers and various ethnic communities.

The second phase of the engagement exercise, which takes place from January to February next year, will focus on getting views on specific measures proposed during the first phase. Views will also be gathered online.

MOH and HPB will also be engaging people living with diabetes, as well as their families and caregivers. This is to identify challenges these people face and understand how MOH can better support them to control their condition and live well with diabetes.