Forum: Health screening is highly subsidised for Singaporeans

I read Forum writer Lim Kock Lian's letter on health screening with interest, but wish to address some points (Make health screenings mandatory and paid for by MediSave, June 2).

Health screening is highly subsidised for Singaporeans. There is no need to use MediSave to pay for the screening.

The Health Promotion Board has a programme called Screen For Life through which eligible Singaporeans pay $5 or less for health screening at Community Health Assist Scheme general practitioner clinics.

Also, the Singapore Cancer Society gives out free colon cancer testing kits to Singaporeans aged 50 and above.

Population cancer screening is recommended for only a few cancers - namely breast, cervical and colorectal cancer.

The public should discuss screening for other cancers with their family physicians before doing any additional screening.

Prostate cancer screening has been a controversial subject among doctors. While testing of the prostate-specific antigen marker helps pick up early prostate cancer, screening has not been shown to reduce mortality consistently. This is because prostate cancer differs in its aggressiveness among different individuals.

The Ministry of Health's recent initiative, Healthier SG, which pushes for family physicians to take on a greater role, can help address these issues. Singaporeans should consult their family physicians at least once a year, even if they are well.

Proper and appropriate health screening for the public can be implemented through family physicians.

Desmond Wai (Dr)

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