Low-income groups to get targeted help for healthier lifestyles

Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Home Affairs Amrin Amin joining residents in a zumba session at Choa Chu Kang Park yesterday. He said the HealthySG Taskforce will work with community partners to guide low-income families in purchasing h
Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Home Affairs Amrin Amin joining residents in a zumba session at Choa Chu Kang Park yesterday. He said the HealthySG Taskforce will work with community partners to guide low-income families in purchasing healthier foods and preparing healthier meals at home.ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

Govt to tailor specific policies, programmes to reach vulnerable S'poreans: Amrin Amin

The healthier lifestyle message may not be reaching low-income groups who tend to have carbohydrate-heavy diets, which increase their chance of diabetes, and who may not have enough time to exercise and cook for themselves while trying to make ends meet.

So, the Government will tailor specific policies and programmes to help these Singaporeans, said Mr Amrin Amin, Senior Parlia-mentary Secretary for Health and Home Affairs.

"The current programmes are targeted at the general population, so we are looking to see how we can better reach out to them. I think there is more scope to better sharpen the focus to ensure the message gets to the people who need it the most.

"These are vulnerable groups. By this, I mean groups with poorer health outcomes who may be under-reached, who may not have access to the channels of communication that we use currently," said Mr Amrin, who is chairman of the HealthySG Taskforce, a group that was announced last month.

Among other things, the task force will work with community partners to guide low-income families in purchasing healthier foods as well as preparing healthier meals at home.

It will also work with donors to fund or prepare food donation packs with healthier options.

Mr Amrin was speaking at Choa Chu Kang Park yesterday on the sidelines of a Health Promotion Board event, Sundays at the Park.

Besides giving more help to vulnerable groups of Singaporeans, the task force has also identified another area of focus after its first meeting on Nov 22 - the use of technology and the immediate environment to promote a healthier lifestyle. Examples include incorporating stair-climbing as a form of exercise in neighbourhoods and tapping technology to provide timely health information and reminders.

FURTHER STUDY NEEDED

Healthy living is not just about the individual. It is about the environment we live in, the social factors, the economic factors. So, we would like to study this a bit deeper to see how we can better make healthy living an integral aspect of our lives.

MR AMRIN AMIN, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Home Affairs.

Mr Amrin said comprehensive changes and integrated solutions are needed to tackle health issues like obesity, which he described as complex matters.

"Healthy living is not just about the individual. It is about the environment we live in, the social factors, the economic factors. So, we would like to study this a bit deeper to see how we can better make healthy living an integral aspect of our lives," he added.

In a statement yesterday, the Ministry of Health said that the task force recognises that more needs to be done to customise its mainstream health promotion efforts for individuals from disadvantaged groups.

With more tailored and targeted "service delivery and programmes on the ground, disadvantaged groups can be empowered to live healthier lifestyles and improve their health in the long term".

The task force also aims to reduce smoking rates, and will explore creative ways to incentivise and nudge smokers to quit the habit.

It will hold public consultations from next month until May to seek views and suggestions from members of the public, professionals and experts to help transform its health promotion efforts so that healthy living will become the norm for every Singaporean.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 17, 2018, with the headline 'Low-income groups to get targeted help for healthier lifestyles'. Print Edition | Subscribe