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Good healthcare at all stages of life

Setting up a foundation for a healthier Singapore.

09 Mar 2017

The Ministry of Health shared its plans on how it will build a foundation for good health for Singaporeans, and strengthen care in mental health, palliative care, as well as tobacco control measures at the Committee of Supply debates on Thursday, 9th March.

FOUNDATIONS FOR A HEALTHIER FUTURE

Speaking in Parliament, Minister of State for Health Dr Lam Pin Min said that the foundation of good health began from a young age. To support this, he announced several initiatives to help improve the nutrition and health of those in pre-school.

More physical activity: The Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) will double the minimum daily time for physical activities for full-day pre-school programmes to an hour a day. At least 30 minutes of this will be conducted outdoors.

Equipping educators: The ministry will equip pre-school educators with the knowledge and understanding of socio-emotional development in young children.

Sleeping habits: The Health Promotion Board will be launching a campaign in mid-2017 to share tips on good sleeping habits. This aims to help ensure quality sleep and better physical and mental health in children.

STRENGTHENING CARE FOR MENTAL HEALTH

Senior Minister of State for Health Dr Amy Khor said that the ministry will strengthen care for those in the mental health community in five ways: improve early identification of mental health symptoms, strengthen response to mental health needs, expand mental health services, strengthen integrated health and social care services in the community, and strengthen after-care support.

Identification of mental health symptoms: Frontline staff of selected Government agencies such as HDB, SPF, and NEA will receive basic training on mental health conditions over the next five years. The ministry will also continue to create more Dementia-Friendly Communities (DFCs).

Strengthen respond to mental health needs: The Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) will be a “first responder” to mental health needs in the community, and coordinate care across the different sectors. It aims to respond and support about 1,000 cases a year, up from 500 currently.

Expand mental health and dementia services: Mental health and dementia services will be expanded in polyclinics, with one in two polyclinics to have mental health clinics by 2021. 

Strengthen integrated health and social care services in the community: MOH and MSF will work together to strengthen integrated care in the community. The AIC will partner and support social services agencies to support clients with stable mental health conditions. The network of community outreach teams and allied health community teams will also be expanded.

Strengthen after-care support: MOH will help the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) to widen their case management support. This will allow IMH to support an additional 3,000 patients over the next five years.

TIGHTER TOBACCO CONTROL MEASURES

The Health Promotion Board’s (HPB) “I Quit” programme that supports smokers to quit will have its outreach extended through roadshows in the community and workplace. The ministry also plans to raise the Minimum Legal Age for sale of tobacco products from 18 years old to 21 years old. This will be phased in over a few years.

MOH will conduct public consultations on standardised packaging measures and monitor international best practices in tobacco control.

SUPPORTING PALLIATIVE CARE

Minister of State for Health Chee Hong Tat spoke on how the ministry was supporting the palliative care sector by increasing public awareness and enhancing the quality of palliative care.

Public awareness: MOH will work with the Singapore Hospice Council to promote public understanding of palliative care, such as how to better support caregivers during grief and bereavement.

Advance Care Planning (ACP): To help Singaporeans plan ahead for their care preferences, the ministry will work with community partners, RHSes, and AIC to expand the ACP in different care settings.

Enhancing quality of care: MOH and the Singapore Hospice Council will launch a quality improvement programme for palliative care providers, so as to maintain high quality standards.

Home palliative care: RHSes will work with community providers and voluntary welfare organisations to pilot integrated home palliative care programmes. Under such programme, patients will be able to receive medical and nursing care at home. The ministry will also extend subsidies to paediatrics home palliative care from 1st August.

PRIMARY CARE NETWORK

Minister of State for Health Lam Pin Min shared how the ministry was going to scale up Primary Care Networks (PCNs) to better support general practitioners (GPs).

MOH will provide GPs in PCNs with funding and administrative support to implement team-based care for patients. The ministry will also launch the PCN application call on 1 April 2017. Funding support will be available for GPs to better care for patients with chronic conditions.

HEALTHCARE ACCESIBILITY

New polyclinic: The ministry will build a new polyclinic in the Kallang/Balestier area, and is expected to be operational by 2020.

Hospital developments: Changi General Hospital will open its new medical centre in 2018. The Sengkang General and Community Hospitals and new National Centre for Infectious Diseases are also due to be opened by end-2018. Outram Community Hospital is scheduled to open by 2020 and Woodlands General hospital and its Community Hospital will be opened progressively from 2022. The National University Health System (NUHS) will take over the operations of Alexandra Hospital in 2018.

The ministry has added 3,400 nursing home beds and 5,600 centre-based care and home care places since 2012, and will add another 4,200 beds and 4,700 places by 2020.

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