In the last one and half months, three sets of statistics make for grim reading – as far as the nation’s health is concerned.
In May, there was this headline:
According to the Straits Times’ report, every five hours, one person in Singapore needs a transplant or has to start dialysis.
“Last year, about 1,730 people lost the use of their kidneys, up from 1,657 in 2013, latest figures from the Renal Registry show,” the newspaper says.
“The reason? Singaporeans are getting more obese and more are suffering from diabetes, the main cause of kidney failure when not kept in check.”
And about a month later, on 17 June, another report seems to confirm this – data from the National Healthcare Group, which runs nine primary healthcare polyclinics, acute care and tertiary hospitals, shows a spike in diabetes patients.
“The number of diabetics treated at NHG shot up from 96,970 in 2010 to 110,554 in 2013 - a jump of 14 per cent,” the Straits Times says.
And as Singapore’s population ages, the situation can get worse.
Dr Matthias Toh, a public health physician at NHG, said that 20 per cent of NHG patients aged between 70 and 74 have diabetes, compared to just 3.6 per cent of those between 40 and 44 years old. Among those aged below 40, under 2 per cent have diabetes.
"So we expect that the overall proportion of diabetic patients will increase further as our population grows older," he told the Straits Times.
Four days later, on 21 June, the Straits Times brought more bad news.
“Each day, 36 people in Singapore are told that they have cancer, marking a worrying rise in the country's top killer,” the newspaper says.
“Cancer cases have jumped by about 17 per cent since 2010, despite certain cancers being preventable if people choose healthier lifestyles and drop bad habits.
“Associate Professor Chng Wee Joo, director of the National University Cancer Institute, said: ‘This trend remains a concern as it means we have not been making much headway in the prevention of cancers.’”
So, what can each of us as individuals do?
Well, the key is not a secret – live and eat healthy, have regular health checks for early detection of any risks, and stay away from things which could aggravate such health risks, such as smoking.
*We highly recommend reading the three reports by the Straits Times to get a better view of the situation for the three diseases and what you can do to avoid them.
This article was first published on Public Opinion.