Our current health status
Singaporeans’ life expectancy and health adjusted life expectancy are among the highest in the world.
Our public health measures have helped to keep Singapore’s COVID-19 death rate one of the lowest in the world.
Singaporeans continue to face challenges to their physical health, with an increase in chronic diseases in 2021.
Singaporeans faced additional stressors during the pandemic, including the fear of infection, changes in daily routines, and social isolation brought about by the safe management measures and economic uncertainty. In a study by the Institute of Mental Health to assess the population’s psychological response and mental well-being during the pandemic, 13% of those surveyed indicated symptoms of depression or anxiety between May 2020 to June 2021.
Adopting a healthy lifestyle and support for mental health
There was an increase in the number of Singapore residents engaging in leisure exercise from 29.4% in 2017 to 33.4% in 2020. However, participation in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week, as a reflection of the desired sustained intensity of physical activity, has been declining since 2017. Singaporeans who engaged in a moderate to high level of physical activity dropped from 80.9% in 2017 to 76.4% in 2020, even prior to the pandemic.
To overcome the disruptions brought by the pandemic, active lifestyle programmes were moved to virtual or hybrid platforms. Singaporeans can continue to take charge of their health by leveraging existing health promoting programmes and infrastructure as part of the healthy community ecosystem.
- The National Steps ChallengeTM continued to motivate and support Singaporeans in keeping active. Season 6, which ran from October 2021 to March 2022 against a COVID-19 backdrop, saw more than 670,000 sign ups. The weekly moderate to vigorous physical activity duration among participants rose from 87 minutes in Season 5 to 93 minutes in Season 6.
- The ActiveSG Circle launched in April 2020 has enabled Singaporeans to access health and wellness programmes and remain active during the pandemic. The platform has developed more than 3,000 hours of digital content since its launch, with more than 67 million views. More than 1,800 persons from vulnerable segments, including children, youths, persons with disability, and isolated seniors have also continued to connect with their coaches and peers via these programmes.
- As at June 2022, over 320,000 Singaporeans have improved their understanding of their health status and adopted a more active lifestyle through the Fitness and Health Assessments and other workshops at the Active Health Labs.
- The MOVE IT programmes, including the Community Physical Activity Programme and Sunrise in the City, encouraged close to 630,000 participants in 2021.
- A multi-pronged approach is also being taken to curb smoking amongst Singaporeans, including public education, smoking cessation programmes, legislation, and taxation. For example, the minimum legal age for tobacco use has been raised to 21 years since January 2021, to discourage young people from taking up smoking. In 2020, 10.1% of Singapore residents were daily smokers, down from 11.8% in 2017.
Singaporeans receive support to take care of their mental health. The percentage of Singaporeans aged 18 to 74 years willing to seek help when they feel mentally unwell was 39.8% in 2019, 53.1% in 2020, and 46.2% in 2021.
- As at 2021, 68 community outreach teams have been set up to enable the early identification of mental health needs and linking to relevant services. The teams have reached out to over 500,000 persons and assisted more than 30,000 persons at risk of developing mental health conditions or dementia.
- The "It’s OKAY to Reach Out" campaign was held from October 2021 to March 2022 to raise awareness and encourage Singaporeans to seek support. The campaign engaged more than 124,000 Singaporeans through initiatives such as community dialogue sessions and webinars.
- There were over 300 General Practitioners (GP) partners under the Mental Health GP Partnership Programme as at 2021, trained to diagnose and support persons with mental health conditions.
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More accessible, affordable, and better care for Singaporeans
As care needs evolve, Singaporeans can be assured of continued access to quality and affordable healthcare services.
- The number of acute hospital beds and community hospital beds increased by 1.4% and 0.5% respectively from 2020 to 2021, providing sufficient capacity to cater to the more than 560,000 acute hospital and 21,000 community hospital admissions in 2021.
- Three polyclinics in Bukit Panjang, Kallang, and Eunos were opened in 2021, providing increased access to primary care services with more than 50,000 visits made in that year.
- There were over 1,200 GP clinics and 800 dental clinics on the Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS) as at 2021. 95% of cardholders have at least one CHAS GP clinic within 400 metres of their home. In 2021, about one million patients utilised CHAS for their healthcare needs.
COVID-19 Virtual Ward
Increasingly, healthcare providers are able to support patients beyond the physical boundaries of hospitals and clinics.
Under the COVID-19 Virtual Ward programme, stable COVID-19 patients requiring closer monitoring due to their complex medical history could recover at home. Daily check-ins were made via chatbot or phone. Where needed, medications were couriered or mobile care teams activated to treat the patients. As at April 2022, the programme has helped more than 1,700 patients recover from COVID-19 at home and saved more than 8,500 physical bed-days.
Healthcare expenditure has risen significantly and is projected to continue rising due to the ageing population. There is a need for increased individual responsibility to contribute towards this cost and to take care of one's own health. Nevertheless, efforts are ongoing to increase healthcare affordability:
- Over the past five years, initiatives in evaluating health technologies and negotiating with manufacturers to achieve fair prices have delivered savings of more than $400 million. This has benefitted over 500,000 patients.
- Eligible patients can receive up to 80% subsidy for inpatient treatment. In 2020, about eight in 10 subsidised inpatient bills had out-of-pocket payments of less than $100.
- For outpatient treatments, eligible patients receive up to 75% subsidy at polyclinics and public specialist outpatient clinics.
- CHAS cardholders are able to tap on subsidies of up to $500 per year at participating private GP clinics to manage chronic diseases.
The uptake of our nationally recommended vaccinations for adults has been increasing steadily. The percentage of residents aged 65 to 74 years vaccinated against influenza increased from 14% in 2017 to 23% in 2020.
From November 2020, subsidies were enhanced for vaccinations in both the National Adult Immunisation Schedule and National Childhood Immunisation Schedule at all CHAS GP clinics and polyclinics. Between November 2020 and December 2021, around $50 million in subsidies were provided to Singaporeans for these vaccinations.
Investing in our healthcare workforce
Through the multiple waves of the pandemic, the core of Singapore’s healthcare system – healthcare workers – stood steadfast. Our healthcare workers must continue to be well-supported as their operating environment remains challenging.
- Almost $1.3 billion has been committed to public healthcare institutions and publicly-funded community care organisations for salary enhancements from July 2021 to June 2023 and payment of a COVID-19 Healthcare Award of $4,000 from December 2021 onwards.
- We continued to build up the capabilities of our healthcare workforce. For example:
- Competency frameworks have been developed for nurses in the areas of community, palliative, and geriatric nursing, to guide them in acquiring knowledge and skills in these areas to meet future health needs.
- The Development Framework for Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians Entry-to-Practice Competency Assessment Framework has been implemented to strengthen the core competencies of the pharmacy workforce.
- National standards for the undergraduate training of allied health professionals have been set through the incorporation of Entrustable Professional Activities in the undergraduate allied health curriculum.
- New national medical school standards for doctors are being rolled out to ensure that the curriculum and clinical training are aligned with evolving national healthcare needs.
- The National Wellness Committee for Junior Doctors was set up in December 2021 to address issues such as workload, career development, and mental wellness.
- A Tripartite Workgroup was also set up in 2022 to address the abuse and harassment of healthcare workers.
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Transforming the healthcare system for a healthier you
We have made good progress in strengthening our healthcare system, but as care needs evolve, we must continue transforming our healthcare system. Singaporeans can look forward to the roll-out of Healthier SG. The regional health clusters are brought together with GPs, social and community partners, and other agencies to build an integrated health and social ecosystem that promotes good health for all. The Government is committed to strengthening assurances for Singaporeans by ensuring that healthcare remains accessible and affordable for everyone, regardless of income level or starting points in life.