Health Promoting Infrastructure

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Health Promoting Infrastructure

  1. Healthy infrastructure and services 


23.     Besides food, the built environment also plays a role in enabling a healthy lifestyle. Specifically, we want people to be more physically active. For this to happen, we need to bring together many elements to enable people to live a healthy lifestyle easily and effortlessly. 


A/Prof Fatimah Lateef had also asked if there would be more health promotion facilities. 

MOH will leverage existing projects spearheaded by agencies like the Singapore Sports Council, the Land Transport Authority and National Parks Boards. ActiveSG, the new national movement for sports announced by Ag Minister Lawrence Wong, is one example of an initiative by a fellow ministry that will contribute to healthy living.


24.     Such interlinking of projects and infrastructure will integrate the physical and social environments so as to bring healthy living closer to the homes of all Singaporeans. Currently, the average distance from each HDB home to the nearest physical activity facility is 200 metres. In April 2014this year, we will be launching a mobile location-based service to help locate such exercise facilities.

25.     HPB is working with the Regional Health Systems and the community to create Healthy Community Ecosystems. The “Healthy City for All Ages @ Choa Chu Kang” was launched in July 2013 and the “Sembawang Population Health Project” in August 2013. These initiatives outline a three-year road map for systematic health screening and follow-up for residents aged 40 years and above.

26.     Both initiatives are also supported by a health-promoting built environment in the community. For example, all 119 HDB blocks in Sembawang have visual cues that promote stair climbing. Ms Yeo Shwu Fen has noticed many of her neighbours using the stairs. In fact, Ms Yeo says that unlike before, she now has a busy staircase! It is through such small nudges that we hope to inspire bigger change.

27.     HPB also collaborated with the National Parks Board to bring to the community “Sundays-at-the-Park”, an initiative which provides easy access to activities that promote both physical and mental well-being. Through such Healthy Community Ecosystems, we will increase the opportunities for physical activity in the heartlands.

28.     We intend to build more of such Healthy Community Ecosystems (HCEs).  The target is to enable 50% of Singapore residents to have access to health-promoting choices such as healthier food or exercise facilities, within two kilometres of their homes by 2020.

HCEs will certainly benefit the groups that A/Prof Fatimah had expressed concern about, as the facilities and activities provided do not require special memberships and are available at their doorstep. 


  1. The One Million Kg Challenge

29.     This Saturday, HPB will launch the “One Million Kg Challenge” (MKC) – the first national incentive-based weight management movement which encourages people to achieve and maintain their healthy weight. As of end February, 16 companies have signed up early through roadshows we started at selected workplaces.

From this Saturday onwards, Singaporeans can register for the Challenge at roadshows across Singapore and at the online portal ( The Challenge intends to make weight management fun by encouraging participants to participate in lifestyle activities, track and report their weight at HPB’s Wellness Kiosks or via online to win prizes.

30.     A national programme like this, coupled with making healthy food more available, and creating a physical environment that promotes physical activity, will provide the ecosystem to encourage behavioural change among Singaporeans.

The target is to achieve a collective weight loss of one million kilogrammes from at least 300,000 participants over the next three years.

  1. Creating defaults through policies: Point-of-sale display ban


31.     Besides obesity, tobacco use among Singaporeans remains an ongoing concern. We will be implementing the point-of-sale (POS) display ban in response to the support we received after the public consultation in June last year. This will be carried out through an amendment of the Tobacco (Control of Advertisements and Sale) Act by the end of 2015. When combined with other tobacco control efforts, the POS display ban will protect youths from tobacco marketing.


32.      Through the public consultation, we found that Though the public was supportive. However, tobacco retailers expressed their reservations at having to adapt their current displays to comply with the ban. MOH is mindful that such refurbishment will incur costs, especially for smaller retailers. We will work with the different types of retailers to address these concerns for the implementation. Retailers will also have a grace period to adjust, and this grace period will begin only after we have amended the law.



Healthy Workplace, Healthy Employees


a.    Creating a healthy workplace ecosystem

33.     During the consultations, many young working adults told me that it was hard to sustain the healthy behaviours they cultivated as students because of the competing priorities of working life. We intend to create healthy workplace ecosystems that will support the adoption of healthy behaviours and to sustain a healthy lifestyle.

34.     In October last year, we launched the first healthy workplace ecosystem at Mapletree Business City (MBC). Those working in MBC can now take part in workout sessions, and enjoy healthier meals. Currently, over 90% of the stalls in the food court and over 50% of the F&B establishments in MBC offer healthier meal options, such as lower calorie meals (500kcal) and wholegrain options, as the default choice.

35.     Dr Janil Puthucheary would be interested to know that since the launch of the Healthy Workplace Ecosystem, sustained demand for healthier meals has been observed. Healthier meals comprise 20% (1800 meals) of meals served at MBC daily. Attendance for weekly yoga and running sessions were well-subscribed at 80% of the sessions’ capacities. In addition, four running interest groups have been formed. The ecosystem is still in its early days; it shows promise but it would be too early for a full evaluation of its effectiveness.


36.     The convenience does make a difference to Madam Fauziah Mustapha, who works as an administrative executive. Since the introduction of activities in MBC, Madam Fauziah now participates regularly in HPB’s iRun programme with her colleagues. Madam Fauziah has also begun watching her diet more closely. Also, she Her family hasreceived complimentsed from her family on her weight loss and she feels more energetic. We will continue to add new initiatives to keep the programmes fresh and interesting for MBC employees.

37.     We will work with JTC Corporation, and other landlords to replicate this model across other workplace clusters in Singapore. The approach will be customised to suit the needs of the different working environments. We intend to increase reach out to 350,000 workers through the eco-systemic approach by 2020.

b. Total Workplace Safety & Health


38.     Encouraging health promotion in the workplace will go hand-in-hand with longstanding efforts on improving workplace safety. As announced by SPS Hawazi Daipi, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), Workplace Safety and Health Council (WSHC) and HPB are working with other stakeholders to develop and implement “Total Workplace Safety and Health” (Total WSH). Total WSH will take an integrated and comprehensive approach to incorporate health promotion within workplace safety frameworks. 


MOM, WSHC, HPB and industry partners will develop guidelines on integration of workplace safety and health and pilot the implementation. Concurrently, WSH professionals will be trained to enable them to achieve basic competency in workplace health promotion.           


c.    Tripartite Oversight Committee


39.     With these new developments in Workplace Health and leveraging the groundwork established by HPB and partners, a new high level Tripartite Oversight Committee will be formed. This Committee, chaired by SMS for Health and Manpower, Dr Amy Khor, will oversee and drive the development and execution of a workplace health roadmap with strong tripartite partnerships. The vision is to help workers in Singapore achieve “Wellbeing through Work” by adopting a more holistic approach to promoting employees’ health and wellness, and increasing adoption of workplace health promotion programmes by employers.


d.    Reaching out to Lower Income Employees


40.     At the same time, we are mindful that there are sectors and groups which may benefit from more targeted initiatives, for example, the lower income workers. Allow me to share Mr Ong Heng Bock’s story with you.  Mr Ong is 65 years old, and is a cleaner with CMB Pte Ltd. Mr Ong feels it is important to stay healthy as he would like to continue working. He does this by watching what he eats and staying positive. However, Mr Ong does not see the need to go for screening.


41.     Fortunately, Mr Ong’s employer successfully persuaded him to go for health screening last April. Work coverage was arranged on the same day, so he did not have to take leave and suffer a loss of salary. Mr Ong was pleased to find out that he had no chronic diseases. Now, he can continue working with the assurance that he is in good health.

42.     CBM Private Ltd is a workplace health champion, having been a past multiple winner of the Singapore Health Award. Mr Ong was willing to make a positive change in his life when his employer took steps to deal with the barriers that prevented him from going for screening. Mr Ong being responsive to his employer’s efforts resulted in a win-win situation for both parties. We will continue to work with our partners to reach out to other lower income workers like Mr Ong to understand their needs, and help them take care of their health better.


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