Intervention by Mr Gan Kim Yong, Minister for Health, at the Commonwealth Health Ministers’ Meeting on Universal Health Coverage, 17 May 2015, Geneva

Your excellency, esteemed health ministers

Ladies and Gentleman

Good Morning


           Singapore has an ageing population. By 2030, the number of Singaporeans who would be 65 and above would have significantly increased. I wonder whether it would meaningful for us to relook at ageing. We may begin to shift our mindset to begin to have a broader perspective because in 20 to 30 years’ time, those who are 65 may still be very physically fit because of advances in healthcare and improvements in our lifestyle. If we are successful in managing ageing and non-communicable diseases, we will probably have a healthy 65-year-old.

2          Ageing impacts on Universal Health Coverage (UHC), which is a topic of interest to many countries. Singapore hosted the Ministerial Meeting on Universal Health Coverage in February this year. The meeting was attended by Ministers and Senior Officials from 16 countries, six of whom were from the Commonwealth (Australia, Bangladesh, Brunei, Malaysia, New Zealand and Singapore)

3          During the meeting, we discussed issues related to the attainment of UHC.

4          First, UHC has to be built on a sustainable framework.  

5          Second, UHC must go beyond just financial affordability and sustainability. It must also involve the development of infrastructure, service quality as well as manpower resources. Only by developing infrastructure, manpower and services concurrently together with financial sustainability will we be able to have a robust UHC system.

6          Third, there also needs to be a very careful balance between the individual responsibility and the responsibility of the government. Maintaining the health of the population cannot be the responsibility of the government alone. We need to underscore the responsibility of the individuals firstly to ensure they adopt a healthy lifestyle and secondly that they bear a proportion of the burden of healthcare costs.

7          Finally, we need to adopt a whole-of-government approach so that we can develop a comprehensive and holistic universal health coverage system.

8          There are different ways to achieve universal coverage and countries may adopt different solutions to tailor to their unique circumstances. But we can learn from one another, and through our diversity achieve greater innovation in developing creative solutions to address the health challenges of the future. 

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