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19 Oct 2019

19th Oct 2019

Dr Kelvin Phua, Director and Chairman of Programmes and Services, Stroke Support Station

Mr Ben Yeo, Executive Director, Stroke Support Station

Distinguished guests

Ladies and gentlemen

Good morning. I am happy to join all of you today at this Stroke Awareness and Prevention Roadshow. I know that many of you here today are dedicated and enthusiastic individuals who have made it your mission to raise stroke awareness among Singaporeans. This is the third year the Stroke Support Station (S3) has organised this event to raise awareness of stroke and what we can do to minimise stroke risk.


2 Stroke is the second leading cause of death in the world1 and the fourth leading cause of death in Singapore2. In 2017, about 7,700 people in Singapore suffered a stroke, which is approximately 21 new cases of stroke each day3. As our population ages, the incidence of stroke is expected to increase further.


3 Since 2016, the Ministry of Health (MOH) has been conducting annual stroke awareness campaigns. The focus of this year’s message is that stroke is a preventable disease. We can minimise our risk of stroke through the early detection and control of risk factors such as hypertension and abnormal heart rhythms like atrial fibrillation, as well as by leading active and healthier lifestyles. If we are able to achieve this, we may be able to prevent about 80% of strokes from occurring.

4 One of the ways we can take charge of our health is by attending regular health screening for risk factors. Over the years, the government has been improving the accessibility and affordability of screening. For instance, more than 65,000 Singaporeans have benefitted from cardiovascular and cancer screening in the 18 months since the introduction of enhanced Screen for Life (SFL) subsidies.

5 At the same time, we should maintain healthy lifestyles by having a balanced diet, exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy weight. Singaporeans often eat out and we aim to encourage people to choose healthier food and beverages by making these options more accessible. The Health Promotion Board (HPB) introduced the Healthier Dining Programme in 2014. As of March 2019, there are now a total of 2,400 food and beverage operators, hawker centres and coffee shops, with more than 9,600 food and beverage outlets islandwide offering at least one healthier option on their menu. We will increase the number of hawker stalls offering at least two healthier choices by another 400 over the next two years so Singaporeans can enjoy a wider variety of healthier meals. We will also continue to encourage hawkers to use healthier ingredients, such as healthier oil, wholegrains and lower-sugar options.

6 Smoking is a key risk factor for stroke. To help smokers quit smoking and stay smoke free, HPB launched the “I Quit 28-Day Countdown” programme in 2013 to empower smokers to take charge and stay smoke free for at least 28 days. Smokers in this programme are sent daily SMS reminders to encourage them to persevere through this period.


7 While we take steps to reduce the risk of stroke, we should also look out for one another in our community. It is vital that we know how to recognise the early signs of stroke so that stroke victims can receive the necessary medical attention as soon as possible. This will help reduce stroke related complications. To identify a stroke victim, we should all remember ‘F.A.S.T.; (Face drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, Time to call 995). Timeliness is key, and stroke patients who receive treatment earlier have better outcomes.


8 The acute care for patients with stroke would only be adequate when there is appropriate post-acute and rehabilitation care. Rehabilitation is important as it optimises functional recovery and enables stroke survivors to transition back to their home and work successfully. MOH works closely with community hospitals and community rehabilitation providers such as S3 to enable stroke patients to receive rehabilitation and post-stroke support. Organisations like S3 play an invaluable role in building up a strong community support system for stroke survivors and their caregivers. They improve stroke survivors’ wellness holistically to enable re-integration into the community.


9 In closing, I would like to encourage all of us to take control of our health and lead healthier lifestyles to keep stroke away.

Thank you.

Category: Highlights Speeches