Fighting diabetes: Free checks for relatives

SingHealth partners GPs will offer free health screenings for relatives of individuals with Type 2 diabetes.
SingHealth partners GPs will offer free health screenings for relatives of individuals with Type 2 diabetes.PHOTO: MATTHIAS HO FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

Family members of those with Type 2 diabetes can now get free screenings at selected general practitioners (GPs), under a new screening programme by SingHealth.

It aims to screen 500 people aged 30 or over by next March, but they must be parents, siblings or children of those with Type 2 diabetes.

SingHealth Regional Health System director Emily Ho said: "Studies show Type 2 diabetes has strong genetic and family-related risk factors, with immediate family members being two to six times more likely to have it. Partnering GPs to detect diabetes earlier means timely and active management can be undertaken to help those at risk delay or even prevent complications."

There are 37 GPs involved in the initiative.

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong announced this week that the ministry is waging a "war" on diabetes, which cost Singapore more than $1 billion in 2010. The figure is expected to soar past $2.5 billion a year by 2050.

My Family Clinic in Punggol Walk is among those participating. Dr Eugene Chan noted that a normal diabetes screening usually costs $28 at his clinic, but SingHealth is covering the cost completely.

"Many times, patients feel they are too young to go for screening, or they might not be aware that they should," said the GP. "Most of my diabetes patients discovered it during their pre-employment checks, or the yearly health screening paid for by their company."

Jazz singer Anne Weerapass, 50, whose parents were both diabetic, was advised to go for screening when she visited him for a cold and was given the all-clear. She felt she would gain from early detection if the results came back positive. "Since the screening was free and convenient, I had no qualms about it," she said.

Tan Weizhen and Wong Shiying

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 15, 2016, with the headline 'Fighting diabetes: Free checks for relatives'. Subscribe