When was the last time you went for a health check-up?
It seems like something that we wouldn’t usually prioritise in our lives.
In fact, most of us would place this at the back of our heads when we feel fine and healthy.
And the scariest part is that many illnesses do not have symptoms until they are in the later stages.
Which might manifest into more serious implications and risks.
In fact, I have a family friend who found out about her cervical cancer a little too late, as there were no signs and symptoms.
And she always exercised and had a healthy diet…
This shows that the best time for health screening is actually when we are still feeling fine.
Regular screenings can help in detecting medical conditions early before they progress, which would reduce the chances of complications, mental distress and ultimately financial strain.
Prevention is definitely better than cure!
But no amounts of money would be able to let us buy our health back.
Also, there might be a pre-conceived notion that health screenings in Singapore are expensive.
However, it is quite the opposite.
To make sure that essential health screenings are accessible to the public, the Screen for Life (SFL) initiative was launched to encourage more Singaporeans and Permanent Residents to go for health screenings.
What Is Screen for Life (SFL)?
Screen for Life (SFL) is the national screening programme by the Health Promotion Board (HPB) that offers Singaporeans and Permanent Residents health screening recommendations based on age and gender.
Eligible individuals will be able to enjoy subsidised rates for these screening tests, which costs from $0 to $5.
This will be available at any CHAS GP clinic.
(You can locate your nearest CHAS GP clinic here.)
If individuals visit a polyclinic, the subsidies will be according to existing polyclinic subsidies and not the rates above.
The subsidy covers the screening visit, which includes the cost of the recommended screening tests done within the same visit.
It also covers the consultation fee, and the first follow-up consultation fee (for those assessed to require one).
Do note that a separate fixed fee will be charged for individuals who go for screening tests on a separate visit.
Who Is Eligible?
Your eligibility will depend on your age, gender and the date of your last screening.
Here’s a broad overview of what is recommended to be screened for:
|Age||Screen For||How Often|
|25 and above||Cervical Cancer||Three years from last screening date|
|40 and above||Chronic Diseases: Obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol (Cardiovascular risk screening)||Three years from your last screening date|
|50 and above||Colorectal cancer||One year from your last screening date|
If you are between 18 to 39 and are identified to be at a ‘higher risk’ of being diabetic after going through the Diabetes Risk Assessment (DRA), you will be eligible for the subsidy for cardiovascular risk screening (more details mentioned below).
Recommended Screening Tests Available
Screening can start at an earlier age, or be done more frequently if there are risk factors for any diseases.
These can be discussed and arranged with your doctor.
Here are the recommended screening tests that are available under the Screen for Life scheme.
|To Screen For||Test||Frequency||Age: 18 to 39||Age: 40 to 49||Age: 50 and above|
Fasting Blood Glucose
|Once every three years||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Diabetes Risk Assessment:|
Short online questionaire
|Changes to any of the risk factors, recommended to take every two years||Yes||-||-|
|Obesity||Body Mass Index (BMI)||Once a year||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|High Blood Pressure||Blood Pressure Measurement||Once every two years||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|High Blood Cholestrol||Lipid Profile||Once every three years||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Colorectal Cancer||2-day Faecal Immunochemical Test (FIT)||Once a year||-||-||Yes|
|Breast Cancer (Only for females)||Screening Mamogram||Once every two years||-||-||Yes|
|Cervical Cancer (Only for females)||Pap Test||Once every three years||25 to 29 years||Yes||Yes|
|HPV Test||Once every five years||30 years and above||Yes||Yes|
Do I Need to Make an Appointment?
As some screening tests might require preparation, it is recommended to call your preferred clinic in advance to make an appointment.
Some preparations might include fasting overnight (no food or drinks for at least 8-10 hours before the test).
For individuals who have been assessed to be ‘At Higher Risk’, there will be an email sent regarding subsidised screening if the eligibility criteria are met.
This email has to be presented at the clinic for the screening appointment.
For Mammogram screening (Screening for Breast Cancer), special equipment that is not available at most GP clinics have to be used.
For this, women will be invited to proceed to the participating screening centres.
Diabetes Risk Assessment (DRA) to Uncover Undiagnosed Diabetes
Did you know that about 440,000 Singaporeans had diabetes in 2014?
This number is estimated to go up to 1 million by 2050.
Also, 1 in 3 people with diabetes are unaware that they have the condition.
This is largely attributed to our ageing population and our lifestyle choices.
There is also no cure for diabetes and it is a lifelong disease.
The Diabetes Risk Assessment (DRA) was introduced to identify Singaporeans aged 18 to 39 years old who might be at risk of undiagnosed Type 2 diabetes.
Risk factors of diabetes include:
- Being overweight/obese (body mass index ≥ 25.0kg/m2)
- Having first-degree relative(s) with diabetes
- Coming from a high-risk race/ethnicity
- Women who have delivered a baby who weighed ≥ 4kg, or who were previously diagnosed with gestational diabetes.
- Having hypertension (blood pressure ≥ 140/90mmHg) or being on therapy for hypertension
- Having a high-density lipoprotein cholesterol level < 1.0mmol/l for males and < 1.3mmol/l for females and/or triglyceride level ≥2.2mmol/l
- Women with polycystic ovarian syndrome
- Having IGT or an impaired fasting glycaemia (IFG) on a previous testing
- Having a history of cardiovascular disease
With the results of the DRA, eligible individuals can now go for subsidised diabetes screening under the Screen for Life programme too.
Something that definitely shouldn’t be delayed given how our nation has even declared war on it.
Essential and Affordable Health Screening Options in Singapore
Health screening in Singapore doesn’t have to be expensive.
With options of even being able to test our DNA health right at the comforts of our home, there’s no more reason to not be responsible for our own health and wellness.