Mr Foo Hee Jug, Deputy Chief Executive, National University Health System (NUHS)
Associate Professor Jason Phua, Chief Executive, Alexandra Hospital
Associate Professor Thomas Loh, Group Chairman, Medical Board, NUHS
Associate Professor Patrick Tseng, Centre Director, National University Centre for Oral Health, Singapore
Ladies and gentlemen
It gives me great pleasure to be with you today to mark the official opening of the National University Centre for Oral Health, Singapore (NUCOHS) Dental Clinic @ Alexandra Hospital (AH).
Singapore’s Ageing Population & High Burden of Chronic Diseases
2. Singapore’s ageing population is a key concern for the healthcare sector. We are, in fact, one of the fastest ageing populations in the world. It is estimated that by 2030 — just seven years away — one in four adults in Singapore will be 65 years old and above.
3. Our healthcare sector faces a high burden of chronic diseases. Many of our elderly residents have multiple chronic health conditions or other complex medical issues. Some may also have physical or cognitive impairments that may affect their functional mobility.
4. Over 159,000 adults above 65 years of age live in Western Singapore – the area covered by the National University Health System (NUHS) cluster – of whom about 44,000 have diabetes, hyperlipidemia and hypertension.
5. I am very excited that we are extending the services here and it is really very, very important. Because studies have shown that oral health and general health are closely associated. For instance, the link between diabetes and periodontal (gum) disease is well-established. Addressing the oral health needs of older adults therefore cannot be underestimated.
6. For seniors, not only is it important to prevent and manage their medical conditions in a timely manner, it is also important to take care of their oral health, so that they can eat well and gain the nutritional benefits of a well-balanced diet.
7. As we tackle the challenges of a rapidly ageing population, there is a need to place more emphasis on prevention and appropriate intervention. The Project Silver Screen and the National Dental Centre Singapore’s ‘Oral Health Movement 8020’ and ‘Tele-Dentistry Oral Care for Seniors’ are examples of programmes intended to improve the oral health of older adults and help retain at least twenty of their natural teeth beyond the age of 80.
Meeting the Oral Healthcare Needs of Western Singapore
8. It is crucial to increase access to dental care in the community for our ageing population, especially those with multiple morbidities to facilitate their co-management across dental, medical and other allied healthcare professionals. I am very excited to hear about the integrated support that you are going to be having here. The opening of the new NUCOHS Dental Clinic @ AH is very timely in meeting this need.
9. The clinic will leverage NUCOHS’ expertise in Geriatric Dentistry, to provide a broad range of dental services for geriatric patients.
Training in Geriatric Dentistry
10. The NUS Faculty of Dentistry presently offers the Graduate Diploma in Geriatric Dentistry to equip qualified dentists with additional training to manage the oral health needs of the elderly, especially those with complex needs. I am heartened that through this new dental clinic, the Faculty will be able to provide enhanced clinical training opportunities for qualified dentists pursuing the Graduate Diploma.
11. In addition to postgraduate training, the Faculty also incorporates the teaching of geriatric dentistry in its undergraduate curriculum. This ensures that newly qualified dentists are able to competently manage the senior patients.
12. The Faculty and NUCOHS also champion research that is related to geriatric oral health. One such research is on how seniors can be better empowered to take care of their oral health through the use of appropriate behavioural change cues. The study findings in the specific areas can bring great impact to the wider community. And the way I see it, you are championing for seniors. We very much need that support, that insight, so that we can actually let them live well. All this information that we gather and experience that we gain in the clinic will provide very meaningful insights that will help us develop services in the future.
13. The opening of NUCOHS is indeed timely and a welcomed development. I look forward to increased touchpoints and more enhanced dental services for the community.
Thank you very much for the work that you do.