Increase subsidies for medication to tackle obesity

While the imposition of a sugar tax will help in lowering diabetic risks, diabetes is as much a disease of excessive carbohydrate consumption and obesity as it is of sugar consumption (Recommended level in Singapore too high, by Ms Genevieve Chua Kwee Huay; Aug 25).

Obesity is the single most important predicting factor of anyone consequently developing diabetes.

Hence, subsidies under the Community Health Assist Scheme (Chas) and Pioneer Generation (PG) scheme, as well as Medisave deductions, should be extended to cover the treatment of obesity.

The subsidies and Medisave deductions for medication to treat and control diabetes could also be increased.

Rigorous control of diabetes with improved medication, especially in the first few years of the disease, has a researched salutary effect on a diabetic's well-being in subsequent years.

Doctors now have a whole plethora of new agents to combat the scourge. Unfortunately, these new medicines are very expensive.

Chas and PG subsidies come from taxpayer money. Recipients should not waste it.

Hence, although it smacks of discrimination, I suggest that diabetics who smoke be barred from receiving subsidies.

Smoking greatly increases the chance of one getting diabetes, and also markedly raises the probability of developing serious complications in the course of the disease.

Diabetics who smoke are simply embracing death.

Smokers can be detected with devices like a simple oximeter, which checks for carbon monoxide in haemoglobin, or through saliva tests that detect the metabolites of nicotine.

Burgeoning problems need drastic measures. The authorities may want to consider this draconian measure in an effort to dissuade diabetics from smoking.

Yik Keng Yeong (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 29, 2017, with the headline 'Increase subsidies for medication to tackle obesity'. Print Edition | Subscribe