Mr Mohd Fahmi Aliman, Mayor for South East CDC
Mr Firdaus D’Cruz, Chief Executive Officer, PERTAPIS
Mr Shaharin Nordin, President, PERTAPIS
Mr Satyaprakash Tiwari, Executive Director, Diabetes Singapore
Members of the PERTAPIS Executive Committee
Ladies and gentlemen,
1 I am very happy to join you today in this initiative, which is the second edition of “From Health to Hearts Initiative – Navigating Diabetes in Ramadan”, organised by PERTAPIS in partnership with Diabetes Singapore. I am very encouraged by this collaborative effort between these two very important organisations, to highlight the importance of diabetes prevention and share the knowledge especially as we are approaching the month of Ramadan.
2 Diabetes is a serious concern. It is one where we have already waged a war against. If you remember, we had come up with this slogan, “War Against Diabetes” because it is something that is worrying for us. One in three Singaporeans are at risk of developing this condition in their lifetime. As you sit here, you look at your right and you look at your left, one of you are going to get diabetes. This is how bad it is. Living with diabetes can be a challenging experience because you will require daily medication and injections. You cannot do regular things like fasting and if not well controlled, it will result in even more serious complications like heart issues, stroke, vision impairment, kidney failure and lower limb amputation.
3 We are here today with Mr Fahmi to try and help you navigate this and to try and see how we can shift things for the better. But this requires effort not just from us, but also from of all of you. We want to change the statistics. Based on the National Population Health Survey 2022, although the prevalence of diabetes has stabilised, it remains relatively high at about one in twelve Singapore residents. Among the Malays, it is higher, at one in eight Malay Singapore residents.
4 The prevalence of obesity is also a key risk factor. Aside from just diabetes, we also have a lot of the building blocks that make us more prone to get diabetes. This is something that is very worrying because we have seen an upward trend. We definitely need to do something. Just now, Mr Fahmi mentioned that some things you have to shave and cut a little bit. That is indeed the message we want to send but we also understand it is not very easy to do these things.
5 What do you do about this? We understand this, but we need to do this together. This is what the government is doing. We try to create the ecosystem, create the initiatives that can help you in this journey. One of the things that we have been trying to do is to introduce Healthier SG.
6 Now, all those above 40 would have already known, especially if you have some chronic diseases. You would have received a message in your handphone to enrol in either a polyclinic or with a GP. It is actually quite a quick process if you have not done that already. I really encourage you to do that. There will be other programmes which PERTAPIS will organise for you to be exposed to Healthier SG. I hope that you will sign up. Why? Because this will be a chance for you to be connected to a doctor who will see you not because you are sick but to keep you healthy or even healthier. He will give you recommendations beyond just giving you medication, and connect you to the resources within the community that can help you keep healthy. If we are connected to a community, a group and to the resources, then that will be something helpful for you.
7 There are also subsidies in place for you to sign up under the Healthier SG programme. You will get subsidies for the medications that you get at comparable prices with polyclinics. These are some of the things that we are putting in place to support those with chronic diseases and those who have not gotten sick yet. Because the whole point is to go upstream, and start to manage it before it becomes worse. If you have not signed up for Healthier SG, please sign up for Healthier SG. If you don’t know about it, you can ask some of the PERTAPIS officers. They are also going to do a programme on Healthier SG, so do find out about this.
8 Aside from that, how else can we help you? We make sure that we have labels and healthier choice pyramids. For drinks, you now have the Nutri-Grade labels. The labels are compulsory for drinks labelled C and D. Choose the ones that are healthier.
9 Aside from shopping for the ingredients, we also work with a lot of the eateries to give you a healthier option. We are working together with organisations, and different partners to make sure that it is easier for you to keep healthy. Hopefully we can also step up to see how we can take care of our health together.
10 The other thing I wanted to share is that within the Malay Muslim community in particular, we have M3. One of the pillars is on community health. Community health means that we are really focused at looking into how we can help the Malay Muslim community get healthier together. There are many different efforts. It is happening in the towns and we are working with different organisations. This will give you options of keeping healthy, such as going for different talks and activities that will encourage healthy behaviour which gives you more awareness and resources. It is all within your towns and within your community.
11 Within the different towns and working groups, there may be Zumba groups or Kebayarobics. Go for all of those things because then you become more aware as to how you can make the different shifts to be healthier. Of course, Ramadan is a very special month because it is a chance for us to be very holistic. Ramadan is not just about not eating and not drinking. It is also about your whole spiritual self, and this is an amanah. Some of us may not be fortunate, but you have this opportunity to take care of yourself.
12 We work together as a community. Hopefully, with all the support that we give you, we will be able to keep healthy as a community. In Ramadan, my colleagues at HPB will suggest some healthy options in the rations pack. We can adjust the culture of the community to something that is a bit better and healthier, starting from today. There were a lot of very good tips that the doctors and asatizahs have provided. I hope that these are things that you can use, as you try out during the month of Ramadan.
13 A long journey starts with a small step. My hope is that today is just a start of your journey on maintaining your health and if you have a condition already, continue to see how you and your family can be healthier and lead a more meaningful life.
14 Thank you to the organisers and all the partners in the community for all the hard work. I know that it is not an easy journey for some of you, but please know that you are not alone in this. We want to support you.
15 My best wishes to all of you, thank you very much