Speech by Mr Ng Chee Meng, Acting Minister for Education (Schools), at the launch of the war on diabetes public engagement exercise

Published Date: 24 September 2016 12:00 AM

News Speeches

1. Good morning, everyone! I share Minister Gan’s enthusiasm in being here today to launch the public engagement exercise for the War on Diabetes. I want to thank all of you for joining us today, to rally the whole nation in our fight against diabetes.

FIGHTING DIABETES IN THREE WORKGROUPS

2.Minister Gan has just shared the five key thrusts in our approach to beating diabetes. To achieve them, the Taskforce is supported by three workgroups addressing each of the areas mentioned. Let me share with you more about their respective plans.

3.The first, the Healthy Living and Prevention Workgroup, is spearheading efforts to review and consider strategies to motivate healthier living. It will also develop an assessment tool to motivate high risk individuals to screen for diabetes, and study ways to strengthen post health screening follow-up.

4.The second, the Disease Management Workgroup, seeks to optimise diabetes management and prevent complications. It is reviewing the current state of clinical management of diabetes in Singapore and identifying areas for improvement. A key area of focus is to anchor diabetes care in the community as far as possible, and establish links with specialist care when needed.

5.The third, the Public Education & Stakeholder Engagement Workgroup, will drive public awareness of the risks and implications of diabetes through various awareness campaigns, with the aim of motivating individual behavioural change. At the same time, the workgroup is engaging stakeholders such as those with diabetes, employers, schools, the food and beverage industry, and many more, to garner their support.

RESEARCH EFFORTS ON DIABETES

6.Research is also a very critical component of the War on Diabetes. It enables us to better understand the disease, so that we can improve the prevention and management of diabetes, and develop new therapies to tackle it.

7.I am happy to see that our universities, public research institutions, and regional healthcare systems have been active in conducting research on various aspects of diabetes. For example, the Ministry of Health and the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) jointly funded a cohort study named ‘Growing Up in Singapore Towards healthy Outcomes’, or GUSTO. A joint effort among KK Hospital (KKH), National University Health System (NUHS), and A*STAR, GUSTO is Singapore’s largest longitudinal birth cohort study. It aims to study how mothers’ diet and lifestyle during pregnancy affect their babies’ growth after birth, including the development of diseases such as diabetes. The study will give us insight that can potentially change our way of dealing with the disease, starting as early as in the mother’s womb.

8.To bring this one step further, the team has started a second study named ‘Singapore PREconception Study Of long-Term maternal and child Outcomes’, or S-PRESTO, to investigate pre-pregnancy influences in diabetes. I look forward to learning more about the research findings, and I encourage research institutions, academia and healthcare institutions to continue supporting the War on Diabetes through research and innovation.

THE FIGHT AGAINST DIABETES STARTS FROM THE YOUNG

9.The Government and agencies cannot fight the war on diabetes alone. All of us can and must take action to prevent ourselves and our loved ones from getting diabetes. There is much that we can do. The best way to fight diabetes is to start from a young age. It is essential for us to go upstream and foster healthy habits in our children, especially children of school-going age.

10.To provide our children with a healthy foundation, the Ministry of Education (MOE) has been working with the Health Promotion Board (HPB) and the pre-school sector to encourage healthy eating and regular physical activity among our children. These include making healthier meals and beverages available in schools and childcare centres, and equipping students with knowledge on diet and health so that they can be more discerning in choosing nutritious food for good health. Curriculum time in PE has also been increased, with students enjoying at least two hours of PE a week.

CONCLUSION

11.Going forward, the Taskforce and Workgroups will require the support of individuals and key stakeholders such as healthcare institutions and schools, to tackle diabetes effectively. I look forward to your continued support. Join us to beat diabetes together, today!

12.Thank you.

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