Speech by Minister-of-State for Health Dr Amy Khor at the Launch of SATA CommHealth’s Mammo-on-Wheels Bus, Wednesday 21 March 2012, 4.00pm at SATA CommHealth Corporate Headquarters

Distinguished guests,


Good afternoon.

Introduction

1.            I am delighted to join all of you here today at the launch of SATA CommHealth’s new Mammo-On-Wheels bus.

2.            During the Committee of Supply debate earlier this month, I had shared on the need to continue working with the community and for the community in promoting health. I am glad that SATA CommHealth has played an important enabling role through its community health screening programmes and provision of mobile services to bring these services into the community. I am told that more than 25,000 individuals have participated in the community health programmes organised by SATA CommHealth since 2009 and I hope that more will come forward for screening in the coming years.

Breast Cancer: Screening and Raising Awareness

3.            Breast cancer, which is the most common cancer among women in Singapore, can be detected early through regular screenings.  However, the National Health Survey (2010) has shown that only about 40% of the target population have attended mammography screenings in the last 2 years. This is low compared to OECD countries. Screening and early detection can decrease breast cancer mortality.. Hence, it is essential to raise awareness on the value of early detection and intervention, which results in less invasive treatment and better survival.

4.            Besides the fear of knowing one’s condition, and perhaps also the fear of pain or discomfort from mammography, a barrier to breast cancer screening is ‘inconvenience’ - such as the time taken to travel to screening centres.  I believe the roving Mammo-On-Wheels bus can help encourage more women to come forward for screening by bringing the service directly to their doorsteps. To improve screening and follow-up rates, the Health Promotion Board (HPB) has set up the Women’s Health Advisory Committee which I will be chairing. This Committee will help plan and implement a holistic Women’s Health Programme, which will adopt a life-stage approach and seek to equip women of all ages with the necessary knowledge and skills to improve their health. 

5.            Cost should not be a barrier to breast cancer screening in Singapore. In fact, mammography screening for breast cancer incurs potentially zero dollar out-of-pocket for Singaporean women aged between 50-69 if they chose to be screened at one of the BreastScreen Singapore sites. They can receive 50% subsidy while the remaining 50% can be withdrawn from Medisave. This will make screening more convenient and affordable. 

Integrated Screening Programme (ISP)

6.            I am pleased to inform you that over the next 3 years, HPB will be enhancing the Integrated Screening Programme (ISP) which is aimed at encouraging Singaporeans to be screened for conditions including diabetes, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and obesity at a Chronic Disease Management Programme (CDMP)–registered General Practitioner (GP) clinic. This programme also includes screening tests for the main cancers afflicting women.

7.            The ISP will be rolled out at community venues islandwide to offer improved, one-stop access to health screenings.  Individuals will be assessed based on their age and risk profile, and encouraged to go for the appropriate suite of screening tests with on-site follow up to ensure treatment for those with abnormal screening outcomes. There will also be more partnerships with local grassroots and community organisations to customise the national screening programme to local needs.

8.            SATA CommHealth can complement our efforts by partnering us on public education efforts on person-centric screening and chronic disease management.  Such initiatives can be implemented especially in areas with low screening uptakes, to encourage residents to attend regular health screenings for chronic diseases and cancers. 

Constituency Health Promotion Grant (CHPG)

9.            In line with our aim of empowering the community to take charge of their health, my Ministry will be launching the Constituency Health Promotion Grant with effect from April 2012. For a start, the grant will support 30 constituencies in its first year, capped at $10,000 annually for every constituency. This will enhance the ability of grassroots organizations to champion health promotion efforts in the areas of healthy nutrition, regular physical activity and mental wellness at the local level.  We hope to see a higher proportion of residents demonstrating improvements in health knowledge and adopting healthier lifestyle practices.  As it is important for health education programmes to be customized based on ground-level needs, a Community Health Promotion Toolkit will provide guidelines to grassroots organizations on how to plan programmes and monitor the health status of their residents.

Conclusion

10.         I would like to end by thanking SATA CommHealth once again for your dedication and commitment towards promoting lifelong health within the community. I look forward to further collaboration in the area of community health programmes in future.  

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