Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) S. Iswaran spoke at a recent MedTech event, discussing the Government’s efforts in improving healthcare accessibility.
The theme for the event was ‘’Pioneering a Healthy Future Together’’. The objective is for experts in the healthcare sector to discuss the most important issues, opportunities, innovations and partnerships in healthcare.
Mr Iswaran quoted "Living labs" to be one of the main efforts for companies to partner local healthcare providers so they can co-innovate and pilot new products and solutions,
Speakers of this forum include Ms Susi Tegen , CEO Medical Technology Association of Australia and Mr Zee Yoong Kang, the CEO of Health Promotion Board Singapore.
According to the Department of Statistics Singapore, the median age for Singapore rose from 34 to 40 in the past 10 years. Citizens above 65 years old is expected to triple to 900,000 by 2030 with the median age rising to 47.
Mr Iswaran reveals that the Government is continuously preparing to embrace the challenge of an ageing population. This is done through heightened research in use of ICT and medical technology to provide efficient healthcare services.
He said, "We are studying the scope and opportunities for IT and other digital tools to enable the delivery of better and seamless care across the care continuum, as well as targeted interventions for improved healthcare outcomes for our citizens."
The output of the medical technology manufacturing sector has more than tripled from $1.5 billion to $5.5 billion since 2000.
Mr Iswaran also quantified the efforts made to step up healthcare innovations.
‘’Today, there are about 25 research and development centres and close to 50 regional headquarters of leading medical technology firms in Singapore’’ he said.
Ageing population is a pressing concern across the region with Asia’s population of above 60 set to form a quarter of the total population by 2050. The conference explored how innovation and collaboration can solve healthcare needs in the Asia-Pacific region.
Earlier this month , enterprise development agency SPRING Singapore today (Dec 4) launched a S$45 million mentorship programme to help small and medium enterprises (SMEs) train their workforce, strengthen their learning and development capabilities, and build their branding as employers of choice .
Mr Iswaran acknowledges that with an ageing population , it is important to stay relevant in the working industry.
“We know that the nature of jobs is changing profoundly, as technology and automation play an increasing role in driving innovation and operations,” said Minister for Trade and Industry S Iswaran at the launch.
“Consequently, the skillsets of our workforce will have to be updated in order to stay relevant to the needs of the market. Some jobs will be transformed, others will be created, and yet others will become obsolete’’ he said
However, the ageing population may not be all negative for Singapore’s economy. Recently , Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong urged the region’s leaders to explore the potential within an ageing population.
"We need to transform our societies and economies to become more age-friendly, and turn longevity into a positive force for economic and social development." he said in Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders Meeting last month.