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Mr Eric Chua, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Culture, Community and Youth and Social and Family Development

Dr Shyam Bishen, Head of the Centre for Health and Healthcare and Member of the Executive Committee, World Economic Forum Professor

Yeoh Khay Guan, NUHS Chief Executive

Professor Chong Yap Seng, NUS Dean of Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine

Professor John Wong, NUS Senior Vice President (Health Innovation & Translation), National University of Singapore & NUHS Senior Advisor

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen

1. Good morning. This place brings back fond memories as I used to head its Department of Surgery for five years. I have been told one of the signs of healthy longevity is the ability to retain memories and may I add, happy ones especially. Whilst the past three years have been a mix of happy and sad memories with the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Health (MOH) is now turning our focus to the demographic challenges of ageing that the developed world and Singapore is facing.

2. Singapore has one of the longest life expectancies in the world. While the healthy life expectancy is also high, currently one could expect to spend the last 10 years of life in ill health. In fact, Singapore’s population is ageing faster than other super-aged countries like Japan. The personal, healthcare, and economic burden of such a phenomenon is enormous.

Focusing on preventive care

3. In recognition of this threat, MOH had in 2015 articulated a three-pronged strategy: from Hospital to Community, from Healthcare to Health and from Quality to Value. Underlying this was a greater emphasis on preventive care, and amongst the many strategies, included training more family physicians and the National Steps Challenge to get the population to be more active.

4. Over the past year, we have accelerated our preventive care initiatives. Healthier SG was launched in July this year, to help residents live healthier lives by focusing on preventive care and better management of chronic conditions. Under Healthier SG, we encourage residents to enrol with their preferred family clinic and adopt a Health Plan, deepen patient-doctor relationships, and strengthen good health habits. We are also making preventive care more affordable with enrolment benefits such as fully subsidised evidence-based nationally recommended health screenings and vaccinations, a new subsidy tier to make common chronic drugs at general practitioners (GPs) more affordable, and the use of MediSave without cash co-payment for treatment of chronic diseases for eligible residents. Residents can also participate in a wider suite of healthy lifestyle activities.

5. Another strategy is to expand the number and capability of Active Ageing Centres (AACs). AACs will serve as a focal point for our seniors to age well with activities that support healthier lifestyles, build social circles, and functional screening for more targeted interventions. They will also be bases for outreach to those who are isolated, which we know is a risk factor for dementia and frailty.

Efforts in longevity medicine and research

6. Within this context, MOH is also investing in longevity research. Since 2020, we have participated as a Global Collaborator in the Healthy Longevity Global Grand Challenge Competition. This is an international initiative spearheaded by the United States National Academy of Medicine (US NAM). We have awarded a total of 42 Healthy Longevity Catalyst Awards (HLCA) from 2020 to 2022, which aim to provide seed funding to catalyse transformative ideas to advance healthy longevity. In recognition of the value of the Catalyst Awards in spurring local research in longevity science, we will continue our collaboration with the US NAM for another three years until 2025. Beside the HLCA, proposals in longevity research have and will continue to be considered for funding under other grant schemes administered by MOH’s National Medical Research Council.

7. NUHS with its strong advocates for longevity medicine and longer health spans, is taking this further. For example, Professor John Wong, in collaboration with multiple agencies such as the Ministry of National Development and Housing Development Board, has initiated Health District @ Queenstown, a first in Singapore, with full support from SPS Eric Chua. The Health District seeks to enhance the health and wellbeing of residents across all life stages through evidence-based integrated planning and design, and community driven programmes.

8. In addition, the NUHS Centre for Healthy Longevity was launched last September by Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat. It is one of the world’s first to conduct research on ageing in both animals and humans, develop new biomarkers for ageing and protocolise other interventions including dietary supplements, exercise programmes and lifestyle modifications.

9. The new Healthy Longevity Clinic will augment this research and aims to address the challenges of an ageing population by delaying biological ageing and improving health outcomes through evidence-based diagnostics and multidisciplinary interventions. In addition, the co-location of the Healthy Longevity Clinic within Alexandra Hospital (AH) maintains the hospital’s care model to provide seamless and continuous care to patients. This means that not only will the Clinic be able to leverage AH’s existing infrastructure and resources, but critically, the primary doctor will remain the single point of care to manage a patient’s multiple conditions.

10. I look forward to further insights on Healthy Longevity from the NUHS and NUS team led by Professor Andrea Maier and Professor Brian Kennedy, the clinical team led by the CEO of Alexandra Hospital (AH) Dr Jason Phua, and the clinic’s clinical director Dr Laureen Wang.


11. As populations age, the increasing prevalence of chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, and dementia places a heavy burden on healthcare systems and individuals. We will continue to support efforts in longevity medicine and research to delay or prevent the onset of these diseases. In the process, we hope to reduce the economic and social costs of ageing, and pave the way for a future where people can live longer, healthier and more fulfilling lives.

12. Thank you.

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