Those eligible pay $5 at most to get tested for up to five diseases
By Salma Khalik, Senior Health Correspondent, The Straits Times, 31 Aug 2017
Letters are being sent out in batches to 1.8 million Singaporeans aged 40 years and older, inviting them to go for health screening for up to five diseases by paying $5 at most. All the letters will be sent out by the year end.
The Enhanced Screen for Life, announced by Senior Minister of State for Health Chee Hong Tat during the parliamentary debate on his ministry's Budget in March this year, starts tomorrow.
Under it, all eligible people can be screened for diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels. Woman can be screened for cervical cancer, and people aged 50 years and older can test for colorectal cancer.
The screening, which is free for pioneers, costs $2 for those with the Community Health Assist Scheme card, and $5 for others. The screening includes a consultation with a doctor when the results are known, and can be done at more than 1,000 general practice clinics in the scheme.
"Together with healthy eating and regular exercise, this is part of our collective efforts to keep Singaporeans healthy and lower the risk of diabetes and other chronic diseases."
Ms Jacqueline Enoch, 47, a manager at the Singapore Green Building Council, plans to go for the screening with her husband, also aged 47, and her mother, 77.
Her mother has high blood pressure and diabetes, but has not been tested for colorectal cancer. She was persuaded to go for screening after Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong encouraged people to do so in his National Day Rally address.
Ms Enoch herself has not gone for a pap smear to check for cervical cancer since her second child was born 17 years ago.
Explaining her reasons, she said: "The cost is rather high. And we have to personally go to the polyclinic to make an appointment, then go again for the test."
The scheme allows her to take the test at a general practice clinic, which she finds very convenient.
While all 1.8 million people will get the invitation letters, some like Ms Enoch's mother will not need to screen for everything since she already knows of her chronic conditions and is being treated for them.
However, there are still many who are unaware that they might be suffering from some of these conditions.
The 2010 national health survey found that more than half of those with diabetes did not know of it, more than one in four were not aware they had high blood pressure, and 44 per cent found out they had high cholesterol levels for the first time because of the survey.
The ministry hopes the offer of free or cheap screening will alert people with chronic conditions to become aware they have them, and encourage them to take steps to keep their conditions under control.
The subsidised screening is available every three years for those who have no known chronic ailments.
* $5 subsidised health screening available for Singaporeans under 40 found at risk of diabetes
By Lim Min Zhang, The Straits Times, 19 Sep 2017
Younger Singaporeans can now qualify for subsidised health screening if they are found to be at risk of diabetes after completing an online questionnaire.
Those aged 18 to 39 need to pay at most $5, if they are found to be at risk by the Ministry of Health’s Diabetes Risk Assessment (DRA) tool at the online health portal HealthHub.
Those eligible will qualify for health screening for diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, under the enhanced Screen for Life health screening programme.
About 15,000 Singaporeans have checked their diabetes risk through the self-assessment test since it was rolled out on Sept 1.
Minister for Health Gan Kim Yong, who was the guest of honour at the opening of a roadshow at One Raffles Place to encourage more people to do the self-assessment, said that the tool is targeted primarily at this group.
“While most of us think that age is a key factor for diabetes... age is not the only factor. Depending on your family history and lifestyle, these are also very important risk factors,” he said on Tuesday (Sept 19).
“I think it’s very important for us to have a very targeted approach to this younger group, to help them identify whether they are among the high-risk group, and to take action against it.”
The test consists of eight questions for women and seven for men that take into account factors such as age, gender, family history of diabetes, body mass index and personal history of hypertension.
With this information, an individual’s current risk of undiagnosed diabetes is assessed. The result does not reflect lifetime risk, as a person’s risk may vary with changes in some of the factors.
The initiative is part of the ministry’s disease prevention efforts, which also include awareness campaigns and a $20 million investment to promote healthier ingredients, first announced in March.
The health screening subsidies are available for up to five conditions - diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and cervical and colorectal cancers.
The DRA tool is accessible on HealthHub at www.letsbeatdiabetes.sg/dra
At the roadshow, which ends on Wednesday, Mr Gan toured the booths, which contained information about the DRA tool, Screen for Life subsidies and the HealthHub Track app, a free personal health management app by the Health Promotion Board.
He stressed that health is an individual responsibility.
“The Government can do what we can to encourage, to support, to incentivise, but ultimately, each individual must take responsibility for his health.”