Ms Jennie Chua
Chairman, Woodlands Health Development Board Committee
Dr Jason Cheah
Chief Executive Officer, Woodlands Health
Our architects, contractors and partners, including Chairman Kim from Ssangyong
Thank you very much for coming and paying personal attention. I also want to thank all the board members of the Campus for giving guidance, leadership and direction, under the leadership of Ms Jennie Chua for this project.
2 We want to thank all our Advisers here for supporting this and giving constructive feedback so that we can make this campus better to serve the residents of the North. And also all our workers, everyone – engineers, architects, technicians, draftsman, everyone who was involved. I know it is not an easy project and a very one. And thank you all for five years of hard work. Couple more years to go.
3 We should acknowledge the challenges that this project has gone through because it went right into the COVID-19 pandemic which delayed a lot of things. Notwithstanding that, we try to work together and help each other out as much as possible. I don’t want to underestimate the challenges the contractors have to go through. But I think it is all in our interest now to pull through and make sure this project is a success.
4 There is obviously some delay due to COVID-19 because it went through the Circuit Breaker. But as of now, based on the schedule, by end of 2023, we should be able to open part of the campus, starting in phases. At the beginning, it will be part of the Specialist Outpatient Clinics (SOC) as well as the nursing home. And it will open in phases after that. I am sure this will be state-of-the-art. This will be a campus that we can all be proud of in Singapore, as Singaporeans but also as residents and Advisers of the North.
5 This is just one of many projects. Since I became Health Minister, I have opened a polyclinic. I just opened the SingHealth Tower, which has a new nursing home as well as a Senior Care Centre and now this – not opening but at least we are topping up and hoisting a beam. You are going to see more and more infrastructure coming up.
6 The government is spending a lot and investing in healthcare infrastructure. When these infrastructures open, they are not just concrete. You need doctors, nurses and healthcare workers to operate. All these require a lot of resources. All this is needed because of the inexorable trend that our population is ageing. Over the last 10 years, our healthcare expenditure tripled. The next 10 years, we do expect it to triple again, just mostly driven by the fact that as a population we are growing old, and we know that as we become old, this is when we fall sick, and need medical care. This is when the government needs to come in to subsidise medical care in order for our people to be able to access affordable and quality healthcare. That is why healthcare expenditure is going up.
7 Of course, investing in healthcare capacity and manpower is one thing. We need to do another very important set of action, which is how do we prevent this generation of Singaporeans in their middle age from getting serious chronic diseases 10 years from now? In fact, how do we prevent people of all our ages, while we are still healthy, from getting seriously ill? If we can do that successfully, I think we can really moderate the increase of healthcare costs. We should not let it triple in 10 years because that is the current trajectory based on today’s trends.
8 Preventive healthcare is going to be very important because if we can prevent chronic diseases and severe diseases, we will age much more gracefully, with much better quality of life. The burden on our family will be much less, the entire healthcare system will be much more sustainable, and our whole nation’s fiscal position will be more sustainable. So this will be a very key area of priority for the Ministry of Health in this coming term. I will speak about it more as we move into the annual season of Budget debate and Committee of Supply.
9 But the imperative is – let’s have a Healthier Singapore. Let’s have a Healthier SG. That needs to be a key priority. And we will again require everyone to chip in and do our part.
10 Last but not least, thank you very much. I wish you good health in the Year of the Tiger.