Speech by Associate Professor Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Health and Ministry of Transport, at the NUS Yong Loo Lin School Of Medicine Public Health Screening 2014 event, 11 October

Associate Professor Yeoh Khay Guan, Dean, NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine,

Students,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

Introduction

Good morning. I understand that there are about more than 500 students involved in the event today. It is very heartwarming. It gives me great pleasure to join you this morning at the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine’s Public Health Screening 2014. It’s heartening to see so many residents here today. This is the right location. I am very happy that residents here and fellow Singaporeans have taken the first step to be interested in their health.

2          Now into its ninth year, this Public Health Screening (PHS) by the NUS medical students reaches out to members of the public like yourself to inform you of your health status and the measures that you can take to achieve and maintain good health and to manage any chronic health conditions that you may have. Last year, the event was held at Toa Payoh and the students and the school had a very good outreach, with more than 1,200 people who came on board to participate in this screening exercise. More than 50% of those who had participated were above the age of 60 and they learnt to actually take better care of their health. The students had brought in partners, to facilitate the process.

Importance of Health Screening

3          We can achieve good health by adopting and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, which include having regular physical activity, a nutritious and balanced diet, staying smoke-free, and maintaining our mental wellness. In addition, we should attend relevant and regular health screenings and undergo appropriate follow-ups after health screenings. Regular health screening is important, as it allows for the early detection of selected cancers and chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension for prompt treatment, which can improve our health outcomes and quality of life. I encourage all of you to take care of your health and take the initiative to come forward to get screened regularly.

4          That said, screening tests are widely available in Singapore. Hence, it is important that the screening tests that we undertake are rigorously evaluated and based on evidence to ensure that they are safe, appropriate and cost-effective. Non-evidence based health screening will not only incur unnecessary cost, but is also ineffective in detecting diseases and may subject individuals to unwarranted medical investigations and undue anxiety. I note that PHS offers relevant screening tests specific to different age groups. And this year, the screening includes a women’s cancer education booth to raise awareness on women's cancer and to encourage regular cancer screening tests such as mammograms and pap smears. This is important as close to 1 in 3 Singaporeans die of cancer, while breast cancer is still the top cancer affecting females in Singapore.

Follow-Up is Necessary

5          Besides screening, early treatment and good control of disease is more likely to lead to better outcomes in preventing or delaying serious complications. That is why we have primary healthcare services in Singapore such as General Practitioner (GP) clinics, Family Medicine Centres (FMCs) and polyclinics to provide early disease detection and management as part of primary care for our population.

6          On this note, I would like to commend the students for having a brand new follow-up initiative with the National University Health System’s (NUHS) primary healthcare partner – Frontier Family Medicine Clinic (Frontier FMC), to ensure that participants who have been screened positive or are at-risk are followed up in a timely manner.

7          In this new follow-up process, participants whose screening results are out of range will be promptly followed up by the students to consult their regular family doctor. Should they not have a regular family doctor, participants are offered a complimentary first review at Frontier FMC, located at City Vibe in Clementi Central, a stone’s throw away from Clementi MRT.

8          The complimentary review at Frontier FMC is made possible because the NUHS, a regional health system that strives to provide and coordinate clinical services for residents living in the western part of Singapore, has a partnership with Frontier FMC. The NUHS aims to ensure that Singaporeans receive more holistic care. So in the West, participants of the health screening who require follow-ups but are stable enough, can be cared for in the primary care setting at Frontier FMC. And those who need further specialist care can be referred to the National University Hospital (NUH) cancer and heart specialist centres under the NUHS umbrella.

9          While Frontier FMC offers a wide range of primary care services, it is particularly designed to deliver holistic care for chronic disease management. Its services include health screening, vaccinations, and treatment for common illnesses. It also offers team-based care to manage chronic diseases through allied healthcare services such as diabetic foot screening, dietetics and physiotherapy. With Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS) benefits available at the clinic for eligible Singaporeans, these services are made even more affordable. Over time, I understand that NUHS intends to work with other GPs in the area to extend the partnership to them as well.

Conclusion

10        In closing, I would like to applaud our medical students once again for taking time out of their studies to reach out to the community. I also understand that prior to the event today, the students had organised health talks on radio with doctors. They had also organised a public forum with the National University Cancer Institute, Singapore, on colorectal cancer and Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) on CHAS. These are meaningful activities, as you are able to put into action what you have learnt in medical school about prevention and have also raised awareness on the assistance available to the community. After all, training to be doctors is ultimately also about learning and understanding how you will interact and work with your patients in the future. Special thanks too to the sponsors and partners who have come alongside the students in this outreach.

Thank you.

 

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