Debate on ministries' budgets

Stepping up the war on diabetes

The war against diabetes is moving up a gear, with more leeway for diabetics and those at risk of the disease to use their Medisave, and an added $15 million to be pumped into developing low-sugar foods and drinks.

A workgroup will also be set up to reduce the high ratio of leg and toe amputations among diabetics in Singapore - thrice the average of Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries.

Singapore has one of the world's highest rates of such amputations, with 180 operations for every 100,000 adult diabetics in 2015.

The workgroup will recommend guidelines for diabetic foot care, among other things.

"About three in four Singapore residents aged 65 and above are affected by diabetes, high cholesterol or hypertension, or a combination of the three," said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong in the debate on his ministry's budget yesterday.

"If nothing is done, diabetes is projected to affect more than one million Singaporeans by 2050," he warned.

During the debate, Senior Minister of State for Health Chee Hong Tat announced schemes to help diabetic patients and those at risk of the disease.

From June, diabetic patients who require insulin injections will be able to use Medisave to pay for lancets and test strips, while those with pre-diabetes can tap it for medical consultations.

To get people to eat healthily when dining out, the development of locally produced low-sugar foods and drinks will also get a boost.

A $15 million grant will be added to the Health Promotion Board's Healthier Ingredients Development Scheme, on top of the $20 million grant introduced in July last year.

Correction note: This story has been edited for clarity.

Felicia Choo

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 08, 2018, with the headline 'Stepping up the war on diabetes'. Print Edition | Subscribe