Health is Wealth

Health is the prerequisite to everything you want to do. Yet, most of the Singapore population still find it difficult to exercise, eat healthily, and break bad habits. We talk to two scholars who are keen to influence the Singapore population to adopt a healthier lifestyle.

By Eliza Hamizah

We’ve all seen them; eye-catching posters to encourage parents to bring their kids outdoors to prevent myopia, sombre black and white images to remind the public that cigarettes are cancer sticks, and stairs at public areas within the Health Promotion Board (HPB) painted in cheery and colourful hues to promote active physical activity among the public. These are just some of HPB’s tireless efforts to promote a healthy lifestyle among the Singapore population.

To accomplish this however, requires a determined and dedicated team and each year, HPB grooms a handful of students to be part of this team and to one day, be the future drivers of Singapore’s health industry.

20-year-olds Jessie Li and Lua Li Ping are two such individuals who answered the healthcare call. Having grown up in health-conscious families, the duo is a firm believer in a healthy lifestyle and wants to spread this interest to other people.

Pressing Issues

As a business major, Jessie feels that her marketing knowledge will aid her in designing healthcare campaigns for HPB in the future. “I love the visibility and accessibility of HPB’s work. It’s relevant to our everyday lives so I know that I will be able to make an impact on the health of the Singapore population,” she reveals.

She hopes to use her age as an advantage. The healthcare crusader, who constantly and surreptitiously influences her friends to eat more vegetables and cut down on smoking, believes her age makes her a prime candidate to be the flag bearer of change.
“The influence of a peer is much more powerful than that of authority. We should try and look into ways of how the young can help the young, and how adults help the adults,” Jessie suggests enthusiastically.

In addition to aiding HPB with its existing projects, she hopes to initiate some projects in support of the causes she believes in.

“I feel that myopia is an under-looked issue. As a myopia sufferer myself, I believe that there is much more we can do to prevent it. Children in primary schools are already wearing spectacles!” says Jessie.

“It’s a condition that cannot be undone and we should highlight preventive measures.”
Li Ping, on the other hand, feels that the underlying problem with Singapore’s healthcare industry lies beyond just policies and campaigns. “I personally think the problem does not lie in the lack of knowledge in the population, but the strong inertia in translating that knowledge into action,” Li Ping says.

Shaping the Future
To overcome these state of inertia, Li Ping hopes to develop a greater sense of personal responsibility among the Singapore population by empowering them with knowledge on how to live and age healthily.

“Riding on the rise of new media, I would like to share with the public innovative ways of keeping themselves in the pink of health. People need to realise that keeping fit is neither tedious nor monotonous,” she advises.

Both Li Ping and Jessie agree that the most important issue that needs to be solved right now is the conundrum of the ageing population. People are now living longer due to enhanced living conditions and increasingly advanced medical technology, and this issue will only be compounded in the future.

“Early detection and prevention of diseases for the currently aged, and developing a social responsibility in the young to look after their old are just some of the many ways we can handle the issue,” Li Ping proposes passionately.

Jessie adds that Singaporeans need to come up with the best ways to accommodate to the needs of the aging population. “We need to ask ourselves, what can we do for them? And, what can they do for themselves?”

Essential Qualities
Such propositions however, may not bear fruit immediately. However, this shouldn’t discourage those who are interested in taking up the HPB scholarship.

“Modification of unhealthy lifestyles and habits can be an uphill battle that requires patience. One should not be discouraged; instead they should feel the excitement in the upcoming challenges and strive harder towards making the Singapore population healthier,” Li Ping advises.

At the moment, the duo is acquiring the requisite knowledge to prepare them for the rigours of their future career.

“In school, there’s a big focus on projects that encourage us to think critically. I hope to apply this to current policies and future campaigns. It is important to question and come up with our own independent ideas,” says Jessie.

Apart from creativity and determination, Li Ping says taking initiative is also an essential characteristic.

“Besides the internship opportunity at HPB, you are also welcomed to take on other stints and can take the initiative to express your area of interest. HPB will try its best to tailor the internship to provide you with the best exposure. Also, HPB is very supportive of its scholars who express a keen interest in joining enrichment programmes outside of curriculum that will value-add to their personal talent,” Li Ping shares.

She concludes, “Imagine yourself a few years down the road when you have joined the HPB family. If you can picture yourself capable of helping the Singapore population to enjoy good health as they age, I’m pretty sure HPB would love to share your vision as well.”

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