Welcome address by Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for Health and Manpower, at the launch of the 2015 Malay Health Calendar on 20 December 2014 at Al-Ansar Mosque, at 10.30 a.m.

Good morning everyone.

[In Malay] Selamat pagi kepada semua.

1            I am very happy to be here at this meaningful event where we have an opportunity to work together to bring healthy living to the community.

2            Leading a healthy lifestyle involves a number of factors. This includes maintaining a healthy weight through proper nutrition, being physically active by exercising regularly and kicking bad habits like smoking. It also helps to stay positive, and to go for regular and relevant health screening, according to your age, for chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension to ensure prompt treatment for better health outcomes.

3            Over the years, we have developed a number of programmes and initiatives, working with our many partners to help support and promote a nation of healthy Singaporeans.

Health Status of the Malay Community

4             Our drive to continuously make healthy living our way of life is especially important considering the findings released from the MOH’s National Health Survey 2010. More can be done to improve the screening rates for chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer, and to motivate the Malay community to adopt healthier lifestyle habits in their everyday living.

Health Calendar Initiative

5             Healthy living begins at home and healthy options are easily within reach. It is with this spirit of bringing healthy living to the community that the Women’s Health Advisory Committee, which I chair, came up with the idea of incorporating user-friendly health tips into wall calendars to provide everyday visual cues for families and in particular the women to adopt. Women are often the ones who ensure that everyone in the family is well taken care of, providing selfless care and support to their spouse, parents and children. It is therefore very important for women to stay healthy so we can continue to juggle our many roles and take good care of our loved ones.

Background on the Health Calendar

6             A year ago, Associate Professor Muhammad Faishal and I introduced the first health calendar for the Malay community targeted at women. I am pleased to announce today, the launch of the new 2015 Malay health calendar. This is an enhanced version based on insights gathered from in-depth interviews conducted by HPB with women who had used the calendar.

7             We listened to their feedback and put together a practical health information resource cum calendar, to present simple health messages in a pictorial format, with health tips  and call-for action on a range of topics including exercising, information on how to apply for health subsidies, reminders to go for early health screening, and on maintaining a positive mindset. To make the calendar even more useful and interesting, low cost and healthier recipes, suitable for feeding a family of four, are also included in each month of the calendar.

8             Last year’s pilot calendars were snapped up quickly, with 3,000 Malay households receiving the very first copy through our partnerships with Malay-Muslim organisations. This year, given the positive feedback on the inaugural calendar, we have increased the quantity of the calendars ten-fold and the 2015 version will be made available to 30,000 Malay households and families.

The Calendar as a Healthy Living Educational Tool

9             From the feedback received on last year’s calendar, there are many heartening examples of how, as a healthy living educational tool, it has prompted residents to make efforts to live healthily.

10          A 26-year-old resident from Bukit Batok, for example, shared that a healthy eating tip in the calendar triggered her to buy apples for her family to snack on, instead of other less healthy options. Her family members also found this a refreshing change. Another lady, a 52-year old woman who stays in Bedok Reservoir, said she was motivated to sign up for a group exercise after being reminded on the importance of active living. 

11          These are just some of the interesting stories we have heard. As a daily cue, the calendar reminds families, especially the women, to take care of themselves and their loved ones, and not neglect their health amidst their busy schedules. 

Reaching More Families through Lay Leaders & Health Ambassadors

12          To create awareness of the calendar, we have activated 100 HPB Heath Ambassadors to give out the calendars through their own formal and informal networks, to reach a wider number of households and encourage more women and families to lead a healthier 2015. 

13          We are also, once again, partnering Malay-Muslim organisations to distribute the calendars. This includes the Muslimah committee of the South East Mosque Cluster, where many of you present here today are from, as well as Jamiyah and Muhammadiyah.

14          I am thankful to all of you and our partners for supporting us in distributing the calendars to your residents and needy families. Together, we can spread the message of the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle to the Malay-Muslim households.

[In Malay] Saya berterima kasih kepada anda dan semua rakan-rakan kongsi kami yang menyokong dalam mengedarkan kalendar untuk penduduk dan keluarga yang memerlukan. Dengan kerjasama semua pihak, kita boleh menyebarkan mesej tentang kepentingan gaya hidup yang sihat kepada masyarakat Melayu-Islam.

Launch of Pilot Chinese Health Calendar

15          Drawing on the positive experience with the 2014 Malay health calendar, I am pleased to announce that we will also be introducing a Chinese health calendar today as a pilot. Packed with health tips and recipes catered to the needs and interest of the Chinese community, the calendar aims to help the community similarly adopt healthier lifestyle habits in their everyday living.

16          From today, soft copies of both the Malay and Chinese health calendars can also be downloaded from the HPB website, allowing even more in the community to benefit from the health tips.

Making Healthy Living, Everyday Living

17          We will continue to help our residents make healthy lifestyle choices a part of their everyday life and to make healthy lifestyle options more accessible and affordable, and in turn, more effortless for the community.

18          In June, for example, we introduced a pilot workshop under the Holistic Women’s Health Series to cater to women, especially from the lower income families. Available in Malay and Mandarin, this workshop covers food budgeting skills, an overview of available healthcare finance schemes, as well as tips on mental well-being, health screening and physical activity.

19          HPB has also partnered the Breast Cancer Foundation (BCF), which announced in April, the provision of another $2 million towards the BCF Encouragement for Active Mammograms (BEAM15) programme to fund up to 40,000 free screening mammograms over the next five years. We are encouraged that to date, nearly 2,500 lower income women have benefitted from the free screening mammograms.

Conclusion

20          This year-end, as we reflect on the year that has passed and plan for the year ahead, I encourage everyone to incorporate the many simple steps to make healthy living a part of our everyday life.

21          Thank you for your support and I wish you all a healthy and happy new year.

 

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