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Speech By Minister Of State For Finance And Transport, Mrs Lim Hwee Hua, At The Go Red For Women Heart Walk 2007 On Saturday, 10 March 2007, 8.35am At Marina City Park

10 Mar 2007

Fellow Go Red For Women Ambassadors,

My fellow Parliamentarians, Dr Amy Khor, Madam Halimah Yacob and Mrs Josephine Teo

Excellencies, Patricia Herbold , Risto Rekola,

Dr Low Lip Ping, Chairman, Singapore Heart Foundation

Ms Tan Lee Chew, Chairperson for Go Red For Women organising committee

Ladies and Gentlemen,

1. It is a lovely morning and I am happy to be here with you to support the Go Red For Women Campaign. I am heartened to see so many women and your family members and friends taking time off on a Saturday morning to pledge support for this campaign.

2. We are all here today because we believe that women can and should play a more active role in preventing heart disease and stroke. Combined together, heart disease and stroke are currently the number one killer of women in Singapore. The good news is that we can all do something about this.

3. The t-shirt we are wearing today bears the words `a heart for life'. And that is very fitting for the occasion today. We all want to take action to take care of our hearts and stay healthy for life.

4. While most women will agree with me that they need to take good care of their hearts to be healthy, I am sure that many women will, at the same time, confess that it is not easy to do so. One of the reasons why we find it difficult to take good care of our hearts is the amount of juggling that we women have to perform these days.

5. Women today face the challenge of having to juggle a huge range of responsibilities -- as good mothers, supportive wives, filial daughters, capable workers, nurturers, teachers, leaders. The list goes on. Women have to be multi-skilled and be able to handle multiple tasks. And a lot of times, in the midst of serving and caring for the people in our lives, we forget to look after ourselves.

6. In Singapore, about one in every two females spends about one third of her time at work each work day. That leaves precious little time left to split amongst the other aspects of her life, and she frequently only has leftovers for herself. Hence, it is important for working women and employers to recognise this reality and to try to find ways to make the working environment more conducive for women to keep fit and stay healthy.

7. In this respect, I urge employers to play a more active role by encouraging your female employees to pay more attention to their health, especially, their heart health. Employers can do many simple, yet effective, things e.g. provide free or subsidized regular health screenings for the early detection of potential risk factors such as diabetes and hypertension. Employers can promote healthy habits among staff by introducing healthy diets on the menu in staff canteens; providing fitness corners; organizing regular fitness activities and health talks and workshops; and discouraging unhealthy lifestyles such as smoking and excessive drinking.

8. My message for my fellow women here is this: take part in these initiatives if your employers make them happen. Be creative and remember to look after yourselves too. Your life could depend on it.

9. We must also bear in mind that family support is equally important. In this respect, I urge fathers, husbands and children to encourage the women in your family -- mothers, wives and daughters -- to adopt a healthy lifestyle. After all, they need to be in good health to look after you. Women have important roles to play. And to be able to give of themselves, they must be in tip-top condition.

10. The Heart Walk today is one way we can take care of our health. This is why I am glad to see so many women gathered here today, all ready to take charge of their heart health. Studies have shown that regular physical activity can reduce the risk of heart disease by over 40%. Therefore, let's try to work exercise into our everyday routine, be it a simple brisk walk or a jog for at least 30 minutes a day. With a combination of exercise, sensible eating, and regular physical check-ups, women can increase the likelihood that their hearts will remain strong and healthy.

11. In conclusion, on behalf of the Singapore Heart Foundation, I would like to thank the following for making this year's Heart Walk a success:

a) The Go Red for Women Ambassadors who are with us this morning -- my fellow Parliamentarians, Mdm Halimah Yacob and Mrs Josephine Teo; Chairperson of the Go Red for Women Organizing Committee, Miss Tan Lee Chew; Malay Entrepreneur of the Year Award Winner for 2006, Ms Anisa Hassan as well as heart patient and member of the Heart Wellness Centre, Mrs Linbert Lim.

b) The main sponsor for the Heart Walk, Omron; the international sponsor for the Go Red for Women campaign, Elizabeth Arden; Nestle and all the other generous sponsors

c) The hard-working volunteers and staff of the Singapore Heart Foundation, and finally,

d) All you women and your loved ones who have come out this morning to pledge your support to heart health.

12. I wish all of you, a good Walk, a pleasant weekend and a healthy life ahead.

Thank you.