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Professor Philip Choo, Group Chief Executive Officer, NHG


Assistant Professor Yeo See Cheng, Chairman, Organising Committee for Singapore Health and Biomedical Congress 2023


Distinguished Guests


Ladies and Gentlemen




Good morning. It is my pleasure to join you today for the Opening Ceremony of the Singapore Health and Biomedical Congress 2023.


2.             The theme of this year’s Congress “Transforming for a Healthier Population” is apt as Singapore embarks on key shifts and new approaches to enhance the health of our population. 


3.             Many want to be healthy. They want to be able to live long enough to see their grandchildren, and healthy enough to carry them. Yet, despite their hopes and aspirations, we are facing a rising prevalence of chronic disease and our population is spending more years in poor health.


4.             This is not only a result of personal decisions. We cannot see population health outcomes as an aggregate of personal healthcare decisions. Population health is also social. For individuals to be healthier, our environments and our communities too need to become healthier.


5.             This is why we have embarked on Healthier SG, a national effort to enable Singaporeans towards better health. We are shifting our energies and resources towards preventive care.


6.             Today, I would like to talk about key shifts required to enable a healthier population. Much has been said about healthcare financing and regulations. I would like to focus on the social and community aspects.


Building Healthier Communities


7.             First, we need to think about health more holistically, and work with a wider range of partners to enable population health.


8.             Health is not confined within the four walls of healthcare institutions. We need to enable health where people live, work and play. This is why the Government has been taking a whole new view towards population health, which involves examining various domains from education and employment to housing and transport infrastructure.


9.             To enable healthier communities, we need to work with a wide range of partners, not just those within the healthcare sector. We need to leverage expertise from healthcare institutions and combine it with the community knowledge of organisations on the ground to deliver effective interventions. We need to embed programmes within the community systematically and sustainably.


10.          I am glad that NHG recognises the importance of partnerships. Together with community partners, it developed the Health Kampung app, where residents can choose from a wide range of programmes based on their personal preferences and health profile. They can also invite friends and form interest groups, enabling them to make lasting connections when pursuing better health.


11.          To support active lifestyles within our neighbourhoods, the Government has formed multiple layers of community engagement through the Health Promotion Board, Sports Singapore, People’s Association and local Resident’s Networks. These networks of partnership provide more options for individuals to engage in physical activity within the community.


12.          Looking ahead, we hope to see more collaborations that will generate healthier communities.


13.          Second, we need to bring together the best of disciplines to develop tools to enable solutions at scale.


14.          Increasingly, there are interdisciplinary teams at hospitals, and healthcare providers. We need to marry insights from various fields to develop solutions that can be deployed across the population and empower individuals towards better health.


15.          I’m glad that there are experts from different fields here today who will share their knowledge with us, including plenary speakers who will be talking about the impact of the spatial environment on health and recovery. There is a symposium which will discuss transformation of healthcare systems. Each of these fields lend a unique lens to enable more positive population health outcomes.


16.          Technology will be a key enabler of population-wide solutions, and we need to leverage it effectively in the design of policies and programmes to achieve positive health outcomes.


17.          In Singapore, we have the National Steps Challenge, the world’s first population-level fitness tracker-based programme, with a simple aim: To get Singaporeans to move more. Tapping on behavioural insights, the Challenge made physical activity more fun, creating thematic challenges that participants could look forward to. With access to personalised data and instant feedback through just a fitness tracker and an app, individuals were more empowered to take charge of their health. We saw overall physical levels improve – participants exercised more frequently, and more rigorously. We are now looking to leverage on technology further to personalise health promotion, for even better health outcomes.


18.          I’m glad to hear that the healthcare sector is partnering with industry, bringing together expertise to develop better public health interventions. For example, TTSH and SGH are collaborating with MeshBio to combine predictive analytics and clinical expertise to characterise diabetes states and predict disease progression. This allows clinical care to be delivered in a targeted manner and optimises limited health resources.


Transforming health in the population


19.          Ladies and gentlemen, enabling better population health is not easy. We launched Healthier SG in July, which requires the transformation of our healthcare system and a change in mindsets among stakeholders across the healthcare sector and beyond.


20.          The good news is that we are already making good progress. I’m heartened to know that 1 in 2 eligible residents in NHG’s region – Central and North – have already stepped forward to be enrolled. This is an excellent start.


21.          NHG Cares Alliance for Social Prescribing has been set up, to support GPs in bridging health and social care for our Central and North residents. With this alliance, residents and GPs have more opportunities to work together on making lifestyle adjustments and achieving better health. I thank NHG for its partnership in Healthier SG.


22.          As we push ahead with this national effort, I would also like to take this time to recognise individuals who have laid the foundation for preventive care and care innovation.


23.          Professor Philip Choo, NHG’s Group CEO is one such person. Philip, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your leadership of NHG. Your belief in the saying, “Better People Better Care”, have inspired better care and empowerment of staff. Under your charge, NHG and the public healthcare system worked together and achieved things many thought impossible. You and your team helped to safeguard public health and the lives of many Singaporeans during the SARS epidemic and COVID-19. Thank you, Philip. I look forward to your continued contributions on the NHG Board of Advisors.




24.          We are at the beginning of a journey to transform our communities to enable better health, better care, and better quality of life. I hope that the sessions over the next two days will generate good conversations and useful insights.


25.          I wish all of you an enriching and fulfilling congress. I am confident that together, we will be able to achieve healthier and happier communities. Thank you.

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