Mr Tim Oei, CEO, National Kidney Foundation
Ladies and Gentlemen
A very good morning to all. I am pleased to be with you today at NKF’s inaugural forum Kesimbangan Untuk Kesihatan for our Malay community.
2. Every day, about six new patients are diagnosed with kidney failure in Singapore. Patients with kidney failure need to rely on mechanical therapies such as dialysis or go for a kidney transplantation, to maintain their kidney function. From 2017 to 2021, the number of kidney failure patients on dialysis rose from about 7,000 to more than 8,000. About 27% of kidney failure patients in 2021 were Malay.
3. Kidney failure brings a significant burden to the patients, their family, and society. It is therefore important for us to raise public awareness and strengthen upstream preventive measures to reduce the risk factors, especially diabetes and hypertension, which are leading causes of kidney failure.
4. Regular and appropriate health screening is important as it can help detect both these conditions early even before one experiences any symptom. Early detection and intervention can lead to better health outcomes and lower the risk of complications. Nationally recommended health screenings are currently heavily subsidised under HPB’s Screen for Life programme. These will be fully subsidised for Singapore Citizens when they visit their enrolling family clinic under Healthier SG, which will be launched later this year.
5. To better outreach to the Malay community, the Ministry of Health (MOH) has formed the Malay Community Outreach Workgroup to co-create and implement year-round healthy living activities for the Malay community, to help improve health and wellbeing in areas such as physical activity, nutrition, smoking cessation and health screening. HPB has also developed tailored and culturally nuanced healthy living programmes with its community partners to deepen engagement with the various ethnic communities to provide support and improve the overall health status. On that note, HPB is organising an M3 Saham Kesihatan Family Festival at Our Tampines Hub on 12 March. I would like to encourage everyone to join us to learn more about aspects of healthy living, and how you can inculcate healthy living habits into your lifestyle. There will be an array of exciting activities such as mass workouts and team tele-matches at the event. Participants can also visit health zones to learn more about the harms of smoking and how to maintain healthier diets. You can check in with your nearest M3@Town on how to register for this event with your family and friends.
6. I am heartened that NKF has been working with MOH, our public healthcare institutions and various community partners, to implement preventive and outreach efforts for the Malay community, to improve their awareness of kidney failure and how to mitigate risk factors such as diabetes. These include health talks and webinars to educate the community on kidney health and kidney failure prevention. NKF has also recently set up a Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) Intervention Clinic which provides free health screening for patients at risk of CKD, and facilitates follow-up with partner clinics for targeted intervention. Some of our community partners from the various mosques and organisations present today, such as Maarof Mosque, Al-Iman Mosque and PPIS, have sent their staff for the kidney screening. I hope many more will follow suit.
7. This sense of community and bond can be a strong force as everyone comes together to work towards the benefit of others in the community. One example is NKF’s collaboration with Khoo Teck Puat Hospital to organise a cooking competition for the Malay community in May last year, which aimed to educate the community on healthier ways of cooking, such as reducing sugar, salt and oil.
8. In closing, I want to also applaud each one of you for dedicating your precious time this morning to gain useful knowledge and practical tips that will help us to better navigate and find the right balance amidst our responsibilities, for both our mental and physical well-being.
9. Thank you NKF and community partners for working together to enhance awareness of kidney failure and promote kidney health among the Malay community. Together, let us continue to build a healthier Singapore. On this note, I wish everyone a wonderful and fruitful day ahead.