As of September 2017, Singaporeans will be entitled for basic health screenings at a fixed price of S$5 at clinics registered under the Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS), said Minister of State for Health, Chee Hong Tat.

“Through these enhancements, we hope that more Singaporeans will go for screening, including those who face higher risks of getting diabetes,” Chee said. “Early detection and intervention are important in preventing diabetes and managing the disease.”

Subsidised screening for eligible Singaporeans

The initiative comes as part of the Screen For Life programme to encourage Singaporeans to undergo screening, such as for diabetes, high blood and cholesterol levels, as well as cervical and colorectal cancers. Singaporeans aged 40 years and above, as well as high-risk individuals between the ages of 18 and 39, can receive screening for all five conditions at a subsidised rate.

According to Chee, the fees for screening and first post-screening consultation will be set a fixed price of S$5 for eligible Singaporeans and S$2 for both Blue and Orange CHAS cardholders. The costs will be fully subsidised for Pioneers, who will be offered the screening and consultation services for free.

Improved support for end-of-life care

The Ministry will also strengthen support for palliative care for Singaporeans, said Chee. For example, Advanced Care Planning (ACP), an initiative that will help Singaporeans plan ahead for care preferences, will be expanded in various care settings including outpatient clinics.

“We aim to reach out to 25,000 Singaporeans over the next four years,” said Chee.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) will also work with the Singapore Hospice Council to promote public understanding of end-of-life care through a three-year initiative that will include topics such as provision of better support to caregivers during periods of grief and bereavement. Meanwhile, the two parties are also working to launch a quality improvement programme for palliative care providers to maintain standards of high quality.

Chee also said that the Regional Health Systems will work with community providers to pilot integrated home palliative care programmes, while the Health Ministry will extend subsidies to paediatrics home palliative care to provide families with financial support from August this year.

Ministry to strengthen community mental healthcare

The MOH will also step up community mental healthcare with the launch of a new five-year Community Mental Health master plan, said Senior Minister of State for Health, Amy Khor.

Firstly, in the five-step plan, basic training will be provided to front-line staff from selected Government agencies such as the Housing and Development Board (HDB), Singapore Police Force (SPF) and the National Environment Agency (NEA) to identify symptoms and respond to individuals with mental health issues within the community. More Dementia-Friendly Communities will also be established, where residents and other partners are trained to assist seniors with dementia.

The Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) will also be designated to act as a “first responder” to mental health needs in the community, and to coordinate care across the health and social sectors.

“By 2021, we target to respond and support about 1,000 cases a year, up from the current 500,” Khor said, adding that mental health and dementia services will also be expanded in polyclinics to improve accessibility of care.

“Our target is for one in two polyclinics to implement mental health clinics by 2021,” she said.

The Ministry of Social and Family Development will also collaborate with the Health Ministry to strengthen integrated health and social care services, Khor added. For instance, the quantity of community outreach teams will be expanded from 18 to 50 by 2021 with aims to educate the public on mental health and reach out to those at risk.

Lastly, the ministry will strengthen post-discharge “after-care” support for patients of the Institute of Mental Health (IMH).

“MOH will resource IMH to widen their case management support, so more IMH patients will be supported in the post-discharge period and transit well back home,” Khor said. “IMH expects to be able to support an additional 3,000 patients over the next five years, on top of the current 8,000 patients.” MIMS

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