Nov 08, 2013

    3Ps for healthy living for all

    HEALTHY living is more important than before. With the ageing of our population, the number of people suffering from chronic diseases is expected to increase. Singaporeans need to safeguard their health and that of their loved ones actively.

    Last month, I witnessed the passion and dedication of 700 student volunteers from various disciplines - such as medicine, pharmacy and nursing - who came together to provide free health screening.

    Organised by students from the National University of Singapore Medical Society, the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine's Public Health Screening raised awareness on the importance of regular health screening in the maintenance of a healthy lifestyle.

    The efforts of the student volunteers helped build a supportive environment that encouraged everyone, regardless of age or background, to live healthily.

    This was in line with the goal of the Healthy Living Master Plan (HLMP): to ensure all Singaporeans have access to a healthy lifestyle that is natural and effortless for all.

    The HLMP is anchored on "3Ps": Place, People and Price. The "Place" factor refers to the need to create an accessible and conducive physical environment. The "People" factor recognises the need for a socially inclusive community for everyone to be engaged and aware of healthy-living opportunities. The "Price" factor aims to create affordable options for all.

    Recently, at the launch of this year's National Healthy Lifestyle Campaign (NHLC), the Mapletree Business City (MBC) was showcased as a living model of a healthy-living ecosystem. At MBC, the "3Ps" are incorporated into the workplace to create a health-promoting environment.

    I was especially heartened when the MBC staff told me that they welcomed the healthier options that they can now choose from. For example, healthier food options and 500-calorie meal options are conveniently available at the food-and-beverage establishments in MBC.

    Even before the launch of NHLC, there were employees already expressing interest in these healthier meals when they came across the NHLC information panels.

    Also, exercise programmes, such as "Sunrise in the City" and i-Run, are organised to cater to busy working adults. Workers at MBC can join in these activities.

    All these help create a community of physically active, healthy people, and contribute to the social energy for healthy living.

    In addition, to encourage more Singaporeans to be aware of their health status and to go for appropriate screening, Raffles Medical at MBC has piloted a customised screening package at a special rate for MBC employees. This little nudge in terms of the "Price" factor serves as an impetus for people to be proactive about their health.

    As chairman of the HLMP Task Force, I look forward to how the master plan can be further realised in the workplace and the broader community.

    The vision of HLMP can become a reality if we join forces across all sectors of society, and work together towards the common goal of ensuring all Singaporeans have access to healthy living that is natural and effortless.

    Associate Professor Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim is Parliamentary Secretary at the ministries of Health and Transport.