The Ministry of Health's (MOH) White Paper submitted to Parliament on Wednesday marks a significant change in the direction of healthcare in Singapore. From the second half of 2023, residents aged 60 and above will be able to discuss their health goals and medical history with a dedicated family physician when they enrol in the Healthier SG programme. It will be extended to those in the 40-to-59 age group in the following two years. What the White Paper emphasises is that, as the population ages, Singapore must take decisive action now to prevent or delay the onset of ill health, and slow or even reverse worrying trends. While the country cannot prevent the rise in the burden of disease or healthcare expenditure, it can aim to slow down the rate of increase.
With that goal in mind, MOH has embarked on Healthier SG, a multi-year strategy to transform the way in which healthcare is delivered. The key part of the strategy is to place much stronger emphasis on proactive preventive care, compared with reactive curative care. This shift entails setting up systems and incentives to empower individuals to chart their own journey towards better health. The White Paper details how Healthier SG seeks to mobilise family doctors to deliver preventive care to residents, and develop health plans that include lifestyle adjustments, regular health screening and appropriate vaccinations which doctors would discuss with residents. Community partners will also be activated to support residents in leading healthier lifestyles. Crucially a national enrolment exercise will be launched for residents to commit themselves to seeing one family doctor and to adopt a health plan. Commensurate information technology, manpower development and financing policies will be implemented so that the holistic goals of Healthier SG are translated into concrete achievements on the ground.