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Madam Halimah Yacob, Chancellor of the Singapore University of Social Sciences, and our Former President of the Republic of Singapore
Excellencies and friends from the international community
Ms Janice Chia, Founder and Managing Director, Ageing Asia
Professor Tan Tai Yong, President of SUSS
Distinguished guests, partners, and leaders in the field of gerontology
It is my pleasure to join you for the 15th World Ageing Festival and the 2nd Geronpreneurship Innovation Festival.
2. Today, we convene at a pivotal juncture as Singapore prepares to transition into a ‘super-aged’ society by 2026, not long from now, a trend echoed globally. The theme of the Festival “Redefining Care: Activating Communities of The Future” is apt. As we rise up to the challenge of our ageing population, we require a paradigm shift in what we think healthcare is about, and who is responsible for it. 
Advocating a holistic approach to healthcare
3. First, what is healthcare about? Traditionally, healthcare involves diagnosing and treating diseases. Over time, perspectives gradually shifted towards a more comprehensive view of healthcare, integrating lifestyle factors and social support alongside medical treatment, and looking at mental health.
4. This shift is reflected in Singapore’s national policies and initiatives. Two years ago, the Ministry of Health announced Healthier SG, a national preventive health programme which focuses on efforts upstream. We want to support individuals to lead healthier lifestyle and prevent the onset of chronic diseases.
5. Our renewed focus on upstream preventive health strategies is doubly important with the pace at which our society is ageing. Back in 2010, about one in 10 Singaporeans was aged 65 and above. In 2020, it rose to about one in six. By 2030, it will be almost one in four Singaporeans. This means every four Singaporeans, there is about one. We had 10 to support one. We envision for Singaporeans to lead active and healthy lifestyles to achieve not just longer years, but also better years.
6. At this year’s Committee of Supply debate in March, I shared how the government will be setting aside $3.5 billion to support the implementation of Age Well SG, a national programme to reduce social isolation and support seniors to age well in their homes and communities. Relationships and social networks are important to one’s health, especially as we age. To this end, we will be investing in more Active Ageing Centres, encouraging senior volunteerism, developing more assisted living options, and enhancing our infrastructure to be more senior-friendly and inclusive.
7. The implications of an ageing population will fundamentally reshape our society, economy, healthcare infrastructure, and social support systems. The government cannot do this alone. So, this leads me to the second question – who is responsible for healthcare?
Collaboration to enable healthy ageing 
8. I think the answer is found in the diversity of stakeholders represented at today’s event, and in our working across to bring about better health outcomes. I’m glad to see professionals, community leaders, policymakers, academic experts, and seniors themselves here involved in this important endeavour to bring about better health to our communities. 
9. We see the positive impact of national policies to support the wellbeing of seniors in Singapore. Still, the horizon for healthy and active longevity can be stretched even further where there is partnership and involvement from the rest of society.
10. I am heartened that Ageing Asia and SUSS have partnered together for the Geronpreneurship Innovation Festival, the anchor event for the World Ageing Festival. As an active innovator in ageing and gerontology, SUSS spearheads efforts to catalyse positive transformation for seniors.
11. This collaboration exemplifies both SUSS’ and Ageing Asia’s commitment to nurture excellence in enhancing the wellbeing of seniors. It harnesses the collective strengths to drive innovation, education, and advocacy for solutions that promote healthy ageing, intergenerational connections, age-friendly environments. Ultimately empowering our seniors to lead fulfilling and engaged lives.
12. A key feature of the Geronpreneurship Innovation Festival is the Ageing Start-up Pitch Stadium, which provides a platform for startups to showcase creative business ideas to meet the needs of an ageing population. This initiative not only promotes entrepreneurship but also stimulates investment in solutions designed to improve the quality of life for seniors.
13. Some of the start-ups have gone on to make a splash. Sunshine Seniors, a standout participant from last year’s Pitch Stadium, has revolutionised senior care through its community e-marketplace. It offers seniors a vibrant social community and trustworthy market space of curated elder-friendly products and services. Since the last Geronpreneurship Innovation Festival, their membership has soared from 700 to 2,200, reaching cities from Hong Kong to Toronto. Their growth shows the impact that startups can have in senior care and the importance of enabling platforms like Pitch Stadium.
14. Ladies and Gentlemen, embracing Singapore’s imminent transition into a ‘super-aged’ society is not merely a duty for us as a nation – it is also a cause for celebration. It signifies Singapore’s triumph in fostering longevity through effective public health initiatives, pioneering healthcare interventions and innovative eldercare models. It is an opportunity. This demographic shift beckons us to foster further collaboration to implement innovative practices and solutions to support the aspirations of seniors for ageing well while also benefitting communities and businesses alike.
15. May this event be a journey filled with enriching connections, inspiring ideas, and fruitful collaborations ahead. Thank you.

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