Empower consumers with holistic approach to healthcare: Gan Kim Yong
SINGAPORE — To address the challenges of non-communicable diseases, Singapore needs to move upstream and find ways to keep the population healthy, said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong at the Ministerial Meeting on Universal Health Coverage today (11 Feb).
Speaking during the Ministerial Roundtable discussion, which involved 17 panelists from all over the world, Mr Gan said there was “a lot of scope” for Singapore to move upstream.
“If you look around, our investments in health promotion and diseases prevention, I think... it is actually significantly lower than the amount of money we spend on treating diseases,” he said.
The two-day conference on universal health coverage and its challenges was organised by the Ministry of Health and attended by health ministers, senior officials and experts from around the world.
We need to take a holistic approach towards health promotion, taking into account how can we empower consumers so that they make the right choice, said Mr Gan.
Necessary information should be given to consumers, said Mr Gan, such as how much calories they are taking in and what constitutes a healthy lifestyle.
The authorities can also look at government regulations, taxation and financial structures to encourage and shape the behaviours of consumers, he said.
Singapore is also experimenting with the idea of creating an eco-system that is “pro-health”, he said.
Mr Gan added: “We are finding ways to make healthy living the default way of life.”
For instance, he cited the example of how the “default drink” in Hong Kong contains no sugar but consumers will still have the option to add sugar or milk to their drinks.