Ms Low Khah Gek, Chief Executive Officer, Institute of Technical Education
Professor Ng Wai Hoe, Chief Executive Officer, Changi General Hospital
Professor Alex Sia Tiong Heng, Chief Executive Officer, KK Women's and Children's Hospital
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen
1. Good morning. It is my pleasure to be here today at the Institute of Technical Education’s ‘Think Health’ Seminar and to witness the signing of two Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) between the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) and Exercise is Medicine Singapore, as well as between ITE and KK Women's and Children's Hospital (KKH).
2. The theme of this year’s seminar, by now I think you would have memorised it – “Participate – Prevent – Progress”, which seeks to emphasise the importance of (1) active living, (2) chronic disease prevention and (3) progress together as a nation is closely aligned to our national effort to advance preventive, upstream care under the Healthier SG initiative, which was launched by the Ministry of Health (MOH) in July this year. Thank you very much Dr Michael Wong for explaining Healthier SG. I am happy to note that the two MOUs signed today will further contribute to these efforts in two key areas – First, in cultivating meaningful cross-sector partnerships to advance care in the community, and second, in creating more learning opportunities and career pathways in the healthcare ecosystem for our students.
3. Let me first speak on partnerships. Over the past year, there has been a concerted effort by partners, both inside and outside the healthcare system, to jointly deliver care for the residents within the local community, rather than in institutional settings. This is particularly important for our growing population of seniors, who seek to age in place, surrounded by their loved ones and friends.
4. To build an ecosystem of support would require the combined efforts of various stakeholders. To this end, under Healthier SG, we have been seeing the growth of more programmes in the community with focus on healthy eating and exercising. To ensure that there are sufficient avenues to reach out to residents, connect with them, and encourage them to adopt healthier lifestyles, we have also been expanding our community touchpoints. This includes our network of Active Ageing Centres which are key nodes for seniors to make friends, volunteer, and participate in a variety of programmes. I am appreciative that our healthcare clusters and national partners such as the Health Promotion Board, People’s Association, Sport Singapore, and Silver Generation Office have all been actively contributing to these efforts.
5. The signing of the MOUs with EIMS and KKH is another welcomed step forward, as it marks the beginning of a partnership between educators, industry professionals and students to jointly advance care in the community in areas such as exercise science, preventive healthcare, and active living. These collaborations will help to deepen our collective understanding of residents’ needs and spark new ideas on how care can be better tailored to residents.
Preparing the Workforce
6. Importantly, the MOUs will also facilitate more experiential learning opportunities for ITE students, such as participation in industry projects and research, while exposing them to a wider range of career options and pathways in the healthcare sector. It is something for you to ponder.
7. MOH is committed to building up the next generation of healthcare workers and professionals. We aim to attract more people to join the community care sector through study awards such as the Community Care Manpower Development Award. This would offer aspiring individuals, including ITE students and graduates, the opportunity to pursue a fulfilling career in the sector and to broaden their skills in emerging areas, such as community nursing.
8. We will continue to work with educational institutes and agencies, such as the Agency for Integrated Care (AIC), to prepare our students and community care providers for the new challenges and opportunities ahead. Our goal is to upgrade their skills and knowhow, so that they feel confident and empowered to assume greater responsibilities when delivering care in the community.
9. I am greatly encouraged by today’s seminar. We have here representatives from many domains – educators, industry professionals, students, and community workers – who all want to do more in advancing health and healthcare for Singapore. Initiatives like this are important as they rally us to work together, tapping on one another’s strengths to improve the quality of care for our residents.
10. Once again, I would like to congratulate the three parties on this significant milestone. Let us work together towards a Healthier Singapore. Thank you.