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While Healthier SG's emphasis on chronic diseases, Singapore's health minister highlights the importance of dental care

Girl sitting at the dentist's appointment (Image: freepik)

Fri. 16. December 2022


Although dental care is not heavily highlighted in the blueprint of Singapore’s national preventive care policy, Mr. Ong Ye Kung, Singapore’s health minister, said preventative oral and dental care is of the greatest priority.

The minister explained to a group of dentists, at the International Dental Exhibition and Meeting (IDEM), held at the Sands Expo and Convention Centre, “Since dental care is ahead over physical care, Healthier SG does not significantly focus on it.”

IDEM is a three-day convention and trade expo for the dental industry where members of the global dental community can share innovations and ideas. The Singapore Dental Association (SDA) and Koelnmesse Pte. Ltd. are the organizers of this event.

Speaking at the occasion, he described how the dental sector is part of the overall Healthier SG effort, which aims to improve Singapore's healthcare system to put more importance on preventive care.

Although the plan appears to be primarily focused on general practitioners (GP), he reinforced that preventive care in all aspects, including dental and oral care, is crucial, since it is not a major component of the white paper that parliament approved.

“As you get older, a lot of Singaporeans develop the practice of occasionally visiting the dentist to check on their oral health and clean their teeth, whereas we don't do that with our GPs to perform our health screenings,” said the minister.

The government would therefore place a higher priority on more critical matters, with chronic illnesses now being the most urgent, rather than oral health.

The minister also urged healthcare professionals to use the National Electronic Health Record (NEHR) system that would standardize patients' data and make it accessible to various healthcare service providers.

In the course of our lives, many of us routinely visit a variety of healthcare institutions, including hospitals, therapy centers, general practitioner clinics, and polyclinics. Each of these healthcare professionals will consequently have some knowledge of our medical history.

The NEHR is a safe system that compiles summaries of patient health records from various healthcare organizations. This makes it possible for authorized medical professionals to get a complete view of your medical history. Your care team will be able to provide you with safer, better, and more individualized care with ‘One Patient, One Health Record.’

“A patient and doctor can have a very good relationship, and all of the information is recorded in the doctor's steel cabinet. However, if the patient requires to see a different doctor one day, let's say in the A&E department, and the other system does not have any details, it does not benefit the patient any good,” he stated.

He described this move as a valuable effort to further improve Singapore's healthcare system and indicated that the government will be offering grants to ease the process.


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