The HealthySG Taskforce, a Singapore Government agency created to promote healthier living, has made 11 recommendations to transform the health promotion landcape in the Republic, with the infusion and integration of health in various aspects of our lives and the environment.
The HealthySG Taskforce, consisting of key officials from the Singapore Government, engaged close to 300 Singaporeans aged 18 to 60 years since 2018 through focus group discussions, public engagement sessions and an online consultation.
The participants were from diverse backgrounds, including members of the public, volunteers and professionals in fields such as public health, social work and services, health technology, behavioural insights, urban design and sports.
Following the engagement efforts, the HealthySG Taskforce has made recommendations centered around three thrusts:
- Empowerment of individuals;
- Engagement of our community; and
- Modifying our Environment.
Collectively, the recommendations aim to promote the health of Singaporeans of all ages and backgrounds, building upon the health promotion work carried out by the Health Promotion Board (HPB) over the years. To go further, we have adopted a multi-agency approach, working with Singaporeans and the community to develop holistic programmes and policies that would encourage Singaporeans to lead sustained healthy lifestyles.
“We believe that the key success factor to the transformation of health promotion is to work with each and every Singaporean – from individuals to health practitioners, community and the grassroots, as well as industry partners – to ensure the effective co-delivery of these initiatives,” said Mr Amrin Amin, Senior Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Health and Chairman of the Taskforce
“We also need to better integrate our services and work closely with our community partners in service delivery to galvanise Singaporeans for healthy living. Everyone has a part to play in creating a healthier Singapore for all.”
The Taskforce recognises that there are barriers that can prevent Singaporeans from taking greater personal responsibility for their health. The Taskforce recommends to address these barriers and encourage individuals to take charge of their own health by increasing the affordability of effective interventions, improving accessibility to services and leveraging technology. The recommendations include:
- Subsidies for vaccines recommended under the National Adult Immunisation Schedule (NAIS) for Singaporeans and Permanent Residents.
- Piloting new smoking cessation support models in public healthcare institutions (PHIs) and providing subsidies for these interventions to help more smokers embark on their quit journeys and to successfully quit. Smokers would be able to access subsidised nicotine replacement therapies to complement their cessation counselling and enhance their chances of success in quitting.
- Providing technology-enabled, personalised coaching solutions for health promotion in collaboration with industry partners. This includes the use of smart wearable devices to capture biometric data and personalised nudges to better motivate users in achieving their health goals.
- A Lifelong Virtual Health Booklet for individuals to track their personal health status. This extends the benefits of the child health booklet into adulthood by creating a comprehensive and reliable personal health repository. Users will see a personalised dashboard with one’s own health status, relevant content based on individual health needs, and targeted reminders for medical appointments, which will allow users to monitor and understand their health status and data, and support Singaporeans in managing their own health. It will also help individuals avoid missing appointments for screenings, adult immunisations and other medical follow-ups.
To better engage Singaporeans on their health, the HealthySG Taskforce recommends to enhance the experience of available services, which requires agencies to be more integrated and targeted in their programming.
The recommendations under this thrust include:
- A customised HealthySG support programme by HPB to encourage Singaporeans from disadvantaged segments to live more healthily. This involves creating a ‘Passport Scheme’ to encourage participation in activities that guide families and individuals in their journeys towards healthier living, such as guided healthier eating trails and shopping tours. Local volunteers such as trained Health Ambassadors would also partner them in this endeavour. This can be achieved by tapping into community networks in the neighbourhood and platforms under the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF). Elements like health screening and mental wellness can also be woven in for holistic engagement.
- SportSG and HPB to leverage their respective domain expertise to deliver integrated programmes for Singaporeans. Key pilot projects should target young working adults in workplaces, by focusing on physical activity and providing health and fitness assessments, as well as seniors by educating them on the importance of strength, balance, and fitness exercises, and overall functional fitness.
- Common, one-stop service platforms so that Singaporeans can enjoy a seamless experience in accessing public services. These initiatives include a facilities booking initiative, a joint incentives programme to enable convertibility of Healthpoints to ActiveSG credits, and a joint physical activity calendar.
- Enhancing community activation by shifting from quantity to quality engagements with enhanced training for health volunteers. HPB will provide relevant training and coordinate this, eventually involving other volunteer networks through SG Cares.
There are ongoing efforts by agencies such as the Land Transport Authority (LTA), the Housing Development Board (HDB), and National Parks Board, to promote healthy living through good urban design and planning. The Taskforce recognises that LTA has drawn a strong link between transport and health through its Land Transport Master Plan 2040. Moving forward, the Taskforce recommends greater synergies between infrastructure and health agencies to further support healthy living for Singaporeans. The recommendations include:
- Development of a “Healthy Precinct Toolkit” to allow the community to take greater ownership in shaping their lived environments to make healthy living easier in their precinct. The effort, led by the Ministry of Health’s Office for Healthcare Transformation, will convene multiple stakeholders in grassroots networks and agencies to find ways to maximise the use of existing assets and facilities, enhance precinct infrastructure using existing funds or schemes, or innovate new initiatives to better support healthy living.
- A two-pronged approach to create and sustain a healthier food ecosystem. HDB and HPB will increase the provision of healthier food options by including health as a consideration in Price-Quality tenders for eating houses leased from HDB. HPB will also increase the number of hawker stalls offering at least two healthier choices by another 400 under their Healthier Dining Programme over the next two years. This would increase number of healthier meals sold by six million per year.
- LTA will co-fund the provision of end-of-trip facilities (e.g. showers and lockers) at workplaces so that employees can freshen up at the end of their journeys. This initiative is an enhancement to the previous Travel Smart Grant (Developer), and is expected to encourage more to choose active options for commuting.
The HealthySG Taskforce said that its recommendations will be progressively rolled out from the third quarter of 2019.