Ong Ye Kung: We are Ministry of Health, not Ministry of Sickness

Health Minister Ong Ye Kung spoke at MOH’s workplan seminar yesterday. He said that while the life expectancy of Singaporeans is not bad, we are not getting healthier. More people experience chronic illnesses like diabetes, high blood pressure and LDL cholesterol. We need to do something about it.

“We are Ministry of Health, not Ministry of Sickness.”

Ong Ye Kung

For that reason, he is pushing out an initiative called Healthier SG. Unfortunately for family doctors in GPs and polyclinics, they will have to do more for their patients.

Taking care of not just patients’ condition but their lifestyles

In future, family doctors must carry out a Health Plan. This entails checking in on patients, performing screenings and scheduling relevant vaccinations for them. They also have to take care of their lifestyles such as their exercise, diet and sleep.

As if that is not enough, the doctor has to refer the patient to community activities that can improve his/her condition.

Enrolling patients in clinics

In time to come, everyone above 40 years old must be enrolled in a clinic of their choice. That means every resident will have one family doctor. Whenever they are sick, they will consult their doctor and follow his/her Health Plan.

Yay or nay?

On one hand, it sounds like a detailed, personalised health diagnosis. On the other hand, it is going to be complicated, troublesome and costly. Healthcare workers are just starting to catch a breather after coping with Covid-19. Does Ong Ye Kung think our hospitals, GPs and polyclinics will be able to handle this?

Besides, how much more will we have to fork out for “basic” health services? What used to be our one-off clinic consultation will definitely become more expensive. With everything getting more expensive, are Singaporeans prepared for it? Is it ok to pay more, live longer but not enjoy life? Is this what he considers a good idea?