Chronic Disease: A Gathering Storm in Singapore

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Singapore is one of the healthiest countries in Asia with a life expectancy in excess of 82 years buttressed by one of the most robust healthcare apparatuses in the world. “It’s important not to overlook the strengths of this system and just how strong healthcare delivery, affordability and access is compared to much of the rest of the region. Out here, we enjoy internationally recognised healthcare, explicitly designed to ensure that everyone has access to different levels and types of care, which tends to be quite a rarity in East Asia,” remarks Johnson & Johnson’s Guillermo Frydman. “One shining light is the MediShield Life insurance scheme which provides protection against large medical bills and expensive outpatient treatment,” he elaborates.

 

That said, Singapore currently spends only around 4.8 percent of its GDP on healthcare, significantly below the OECD average of 8.9 percent, while a growing disease burden and the demography of an ageing population are combining to ramp up pressure on the public health system. Pharmaceuticals meanwhile account for a mere 5.8 percent of total healthcare spending, versus about 16.5 to 17 percent in many developed western economies, which means that Singapore will have to act smartly if it is to keep its healthcare system sustainable in the long run.

 

8.6 percent of the Singaporean adult population is suffering with diabetes today, with 8.7 percent already living with obesity and some 1.7 million people are at risk of developing obesity related complications in the coming years

Praful Chakkarwar, Novo Nordisk

 

Of particular concern is the rise in chronic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular complaints. “8.6 percent of the Singaporean adult population is suffering with diabetes today, with 8.7 percent already living with obesity and some 1.7 million people are at risk of developing obesity related complications in the coming years,” warns Praful Chakkarwar, the country manager of Novo Nordisk. “The challenge is going to be about raising awareness of this emerging threat and reconfiguring care pathways, because obesity management requires a multidisciplinary approach to be properly effective,” he stresses.

Companies like Sanofi have therefore been explicitly positioning themselves to help surmount these kinds of challenges. “Our core focus is to reverse the course of the chronic disease epidemic by 2030 through radically transforming and reconceptualising healthcare. We’re looking to drive better diabetes management and really assume leadership in those areas where we are confident we can dramatically improve chronic disease patient outcomes, including cardiovascular and thrombosis.” explains the company’s general manager, Marine Queniart-Stojanovic. “This entails transitioning beyond being a mere purveyor of pills to becoming a provider of holistic healthcare solutions and collaborating with stakeholders right across the healthcare continuum,” she stresses.

 

Our core focus is to reverse the course of the chronic disease epidemic by 2030 through radically transforming and reconceptualising healthcare

Marine Queniart-Stojanovic

 

Siemens Healthineers has come to similar conclusions from a medtech angle. “We’ve been moving away from selling conventional products and services to focussing on developing genuine Value Partnerships,” outlines managing director for Singapore, Ai Li Siow. “This is especially true for Singapore, where there is a push for consolidation between single hospitals towards a cluster and enterprise-based hospital management systems. We want to facilitate a standardisation of processes, which will enable healthcare providers to control quality outcomes, to shorten turnaround times and to achieve better utilisation and optimisation of the various technologies in the healthcare setting. For instance, we believe making better use of remote patient monitoring, digital apps, telemedicine, and home-based outpatient care can make a considerable difference in combatting some of the big public health challenges of our time such as lifestyle-related chronic disease.”

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