In his National Day message this year, delivered on 8 August at Gardens by the Bay, the PM called the war on diabetes something that would “benefit us in the long term”.
He highlighted diabetes as a major cause of poor health in Singapore, especially among the elderly, saying, “Almost a third of those over the age of 60 have diabetes. At first, diabetes is an invisible disease. But over time, its consequences are severe — blindness, heart disease, kidney failure, amputated limbs.”
He also expressed a desire to see Singaporeans live long and healthy lives, revealing that despite the overall increase in the life expectancy of the country’s citizens, its elderly go through an average of eight years of ill health towards the end of their lives.
Lee said, “Eight years is a long time and can also be a burden for (the) families.”
Going all out
He added: “This is why we must go all out to fight diabetes. It is not just about more hospital facilities and better treatment. It also depends crucially on personal choices and lifestyles, to prevent diabetes in the first place. Each one of us must take responsibility for our own health.”
He then stressed the importance of watching one’s diet and lifestyle, encouraging Singaporeans to exercise regularly and drink “plain water instead of soft drinks”.
“This must start from young. That is the way to reduce the risk of diabetes, stay healthy, and live well.”
Diabetes has been a growing problem in Asia, with expert projections predicting that there will be one million diabetics in Singapore by 2030 if the issue is not properly addressed.
More recently, academics warned of the likelihood that 50% of Singapore’s population will be affected type 2 diabetes by 2050.