Transcript of Speech by PM Lee Hsien Loong at the Official Opening of Ang Mo Kio Specialist Centre on 18 March 2022.
Mr Tan Tee How, Chairman, National Healthcare Group
Prof Eugene Fidelis Soh, Chief Executive Officer, Tan Tock Seng Hospital
Adjunct Professor Chin Jing Jih, Chairman Medical Board, Tan Tock Seng Hospital
Ladies and Gentlemen
Good morning to everybody.
I am happy to join all of you today for the official opening of the Ang Mo Kio Specialist Centre.
This is the old site of the Ang Mo Kio Polyclinic, built 40 years ago in 1981. The Polyclinic was upgraded two decades later. In 2004, I opened the upgraded facilities here. Later in 2018, we replaced it with an expanded Polyclinic a few blocks down the road. This building was then redeveloped as the new Ang Mo Kio Specialist Centre, and we are all here today for its official launch.
These developments – the upgrading of the Ang Mo Kio polyclinic and the opening of the Ang Mo Kio Specialist Centre – reflect the continuous improvements to Singapore’s healthcare system over many years, improvements which better serve our population and which take a more person-centric approach towards healthcare. We are empowering individuals to care for their own health through preventive health measures, we are anchoring disease management within the primary and community care setting, and we are networking together agencies and community partners to coordinate healthcare and social support.
Ang Mo Kio Specialist Centre
The new Specialist Centre brings a suite of specialist healthcare facilities and services right to the doorsteps of the residents, as you have heard from Professor Soh just now. Until recently, an elderly resident in Ang Mo Kio who has blurred vision would have been referred to Tan Tock Seng Hospital for testing, consultation, treatment, and follow up. But with this new Centre, he can now obtain medical treatment, cataract surgery, and post-surgery reviews right in his neighbourhood. Similarly for patients who require colonoscopy or gastroscopy procedures, or musculoskeletal rehabilitation, just to name a few.
In making specialist medical treatment more accessible for residents, this Specialist Centre seeks to provide a more seamless healthcare experience. Its one-stop trans-disciplinary Diabetes Clinic is a good example. Here, instead of having multiple medical appointments, residents only need to see one allied health professional, who is cross-trained to provide inter-disciplinary diabetes education and medical care. Support services like medicine delivery will also be here, reducing hassle. This will offer patients continuity of care. Throughout their course of treatment, the staff at the Clinic will work closely with the primary care providers – the GPs and the family physicians – will keep them updated on the test results and progress of the patient, and will enable the GPs and family physicians to follow up with the patients.
But good health depends on more than access to the best medical treatment. Social factors, too, have a big impact. That is why the Centre has invested in Community Health Teams, and worked closely with other agencies and community partners to look after the well-being of patients. Patients like Mr Soh, who moved to Ang Mo Kio recently, and was referred to the Centre. During the Community Health Team’s first home visit, Mr Soh shared about his medical conditions, as well as his anxieties living in a new community with little family support. So, the Community Health Team got to work. They helped to coordinate his treatments and enrolment to a senior day care centre. They also brought in the Ang Mo Kio Family Service Centre’s MindCare staff and TOUCH Home Care nurses, who visit him regularly at his home to provide nursing and medical support. They also brought in the Silver Generation Office staff and volunteers who also visit him, to assist with ad-hoc tasks like housekeeping and groceries. Mr Soh is now adjusting to a care routine that he is comfortable with, and slowly but steadily, his condition is improving.
Another crucial aspect of health is preventive care. The saying goes, “an apple a day keeps the doctors away”. We try to do a bit more. That is why the Centre and its partners offer community wellness programmes to residents, and provide health coaching, to help residents work towards personalised health and lifestyle goals. The Community Health Teams have also built and trained a network of Peer Support Leaders (PSLs). They raise awareness about health and wellness in their neighbourhoods and communities. The PSLs launch programmes like group exercises to encourage fellow seniors to stay active, and guided cooking sessions to promote healthier eating.
Ultimately, ensuring the health and well-being of our residents takes a collective effort. The Government continually reviews our overall healthcare strategy and policies, builds new and better facilities, and staffs them with well-trained professionals. Healthcare providers constantly work on improving the level of care provided to residents. But residents, too, you must play your part to keep yourself healthy.
Mr Ong Ye Kung, the Minister for Health shared some statistics in Parliament during the recent Committee of Supply, the figures are quite worrying. Between 2017 and 2020, that is up to the beginning of COVID-19, the proportion of Singaporeans with high blood pressure increased from about two in ten, to three in ten; with high cholesterol, from about three in ten, to four in ten; and obesity rates also went up from under 9% to over 10%; the diabetes rates stayed the same, but that was only after we declared a war on diabetes in 2016 and made concerted efforts to tackle the problem. Even then, we only managed to barely hold the line. Unless we make progress on these, and we do not look after ourselves and become overweight and obese, and our blood pressure, blood sugar and blood cholesterol goes up – the Chinese say “三高”, three highs – then all the most expensive and advanced medical care in the world will not succeed in giving us more years of healthy life among our population. All of us must make the effort – to go for regular health screenings, follow the advice of the medical professionals, stay active, keep fit, watch what we eat. I know there is good food just around the corner but please not too much, everything in moderation.
That is how, even with an ageing population, we can help our healthcare system to ensure sustainable and good healthcare for Singaporeans.
I congratulate National Healthcare Group, Tan Tock Seng Hospital, and all your partner organisations on today’s official opening of the Ang Mo Kio Specialist Centre.
Thank you for your continued contributions and your commitment to delivering better health outcomes and more positive experiences to our residents, and to improving the healthcare system in Singapore.
Thank you very much.
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