Diabetes is a huge and growing burden for many countries across the world. Globally, 415 million adults lived with the condition in 2015 and this number is expected to rise to around 642 million, or one in ten adults by 20401. In Singapore, diabetes is a serious health concern, with over 400,000 Singaporeans living with the disease. One in three Singaporeans has a lifetime risk of getting diabetes and the number of those with diabetes is projected to reach one million by 2050.

2. In April this year, the Ministry of Health (MOH) declared 'War on Diabetes' to rally a whole-of-nation effort to reduce the burden of diabetes in our population. The national Diabetes Prevention and Care Taskforce, established in June 2016, has scoped out key strategies to shift the population towards a healthier and more active lifestyle, improve early detection and intervention, and enhance diabetes care. The key strategies are underpinned by efforts to educate and enable the public to better prevent and manage diabetes, and engage key stakeholders to mobilise support.

3. Minister for Health Mr Gan Kim Yong said, "As we commemorate the World Diabetes Day, we must press on with our efforts in the War on Diabetes. While the national Diabetes Prevention and Care Taskforce has made progress in exploring and initiating various programmes to fight diabetes, the War cannot be the efforts of a few. Everyone has a part to play in the choices we make each day to lead a healthy lifestyle. Let us all play our part and beat diabetes together!"

Prevention

4. The Taskforce will motivate more Singaporeans to adopt healthy lifestyles, including having regular physical activity and a balanced diet. As up to 60% of Singaporeans eat out at least four times a week, the Taskforce is exploring ways to encourage and support industries to adopt healthier ingredients and expand the range of healthier food and beverages available to Singaporeans.

Screening

5. In partnership with our public healthcare institutions and grassroots organisations, the Taskforce has initiated community-based pilot interventions to help high risk individuals modify their lifestyles through goal setting and health coaching. For instance, a lifestyle modification pilot has been initiated at Toa Payoh West to empower residents with the knowledge to eat healthily, set personal goals for healthy living, and manage their diabetes condition. In addition, through creating awareness of exercise programmes in the neighbourhood, the pilot aims to increase residents' level of physical activity.

Management

6. The control of diabetes, and prevention or delay of complications, can be enhanced through the holistic management of diabetes patients by their regular family doctor. MOH is developing strategies to better support family doctors, in areas such as IT, training and funding, to manage diabetes more effectively in the community, as part of MOH's primary care transformation efforts.

7. MOH is reviewing key flagship programmes to prevent and retard diabetes-related complications, such as eye and kidney diseases. For instance, under the expanded Singapore Integrated Diabetic Retinopathy Programme (SiDRP), eye images are taken at all 18 polyclinics are transmitted electronically to a centralised team of graders. This results in standardised reading, and faster turnaround time.

8. The pilot Nephrology Evaluation Management and Optimisation (NEMO) programme, which optimises the use of kidney-protective medication in patients to slow the progression of chronic kidney disease (CKD), will be enhanced and expanded into a national prevention programme for CKD. It will be implemented across all polyclinics.

Research

9. Research and innovation are key enablers in the global fight against diabetes. Diabetes is a focus area in the Health and Biomedical Services domain under Singapore's Research, Innovation and Enterprise 2020 (RIE2020) Plan. MOH is working closely with the research community to shape research that is useful and relevant. This includes developing a diabetes data registry and identifying factors that contribute to the rising prevalence of diabetes in Singapore starting as early as the preconception stage in the mother's womb. For example, an ongoing Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) and MOH jointly funded programme, 'Singapore PREconception Study of long-Term maternal and child Outcomes' (S-PRESTO), aims to study pre-pregnancy factors that contribute to the development of diabetes.

Public Engagement

10. To underscore the importance that individuals can play a role in the War on Diabetes, the Taskforce has launched an action call. Themed 'Let's BEAT Diabetes', it emphasises that the fight against diabetes must be fought not only at the community level, but also at an individual level. As encapsulated in the acronym 'BEAT', all individuals are encouraged to Be Aware, Eat Right, Adopt an Active Lifestyle, and Take Control, to beat diabetes together as a nation. MOH and HPB are in the midst of a public engagement exercise which will reach out to a wide spectrum of Singaporeans from October 2016 to February 2017, to garner their views on how to beat diabetes. We encourage more Singaporeans to provide their feedback, and pledge support for the War on Diabetes today.

Source: Ministry of Health, Singapore