At the Ministerial Roundtable held on the second day of the Ministerial Conference on Diabetes, the Health Ministers and senior government representatives affirmed their commitment to enhance innovation and strengthen international partnerships and collaborations with key stakeholders, so as to foster a supportive environment that encourages citizens to take active steps towards preventing and managing diabetes.
Beyond political commitment by governments to tackle diabetes, the Ministerial Roundtable agreed that a holistic response to address the plethora of challenges in diabetes prevention and management requires sustainable financing mechanisms, innovative approaches and bold health system reforms.
Key Discussions at the Ministerial Roundtable
A. Leveraging innovation approaches
Diabetes is not just a medical challenge but a wider societal challenge. It is therefore imperative to find innovative approaches to better implement solutions nationally and within communities. These solutions must include improving access to medical treatment, empowering patients in self-management, protection against financial hardships, and adjustments in traditional health practices to adapt to the state of diabetes and non-communicable diseases today.
Innovation has been and will continue to be a crucial strategy in addressing the global diabetes epidemic. Delegates expressed keen interest to explore international and regional opportunities among governments, as well as the World Health Organization (WHO), to advance innovations in diabetes. These include data collection, analytics and research, which can build on collective knowledge and capabilities to advance the movement against diabetes and other non-communicable diseases. Delegates also highlighted the need to innovate in areas in such as telemedicine and emerging health technologies that could help foster positive behavioural change and empower individuals to lead healthier lives.
B. Social Mobilisation
Delegates also recognised that social mobilisation is increasingly used as an important tool in empowering people to take ownership of and action for their health. The mass communication of health information is no longer sufficient, as officials look to more targeted responses and messages to reach out to diverse segments of the population.
One strategy is to use health ambassadors to motivate the public and share basic health knowledge and skills. Ambassadors can be public volunteers, from all walks of life, including the silver generation, to inspire a shared passion for healthy living. Countries such as Brunei, Japan, Malaysia and Tongashared their experiences in tapping on local community networks to educate individuals on health promotion and empowerment of patients to better manage the disease.
C. Fostering Better Cooperation with Key Stakeholders
Beyond actions taken by policymakers to introduce more effective and efficient interventions to foster positive health behaviours and better healthcare delivery, delegates agreed that governments alone cannot reverse the diabetes tsunami. Delegates reiterated the need for cross-sectoral collaboration to minimise the threat of diabetes. This includes fostering inter-government agency collaboration, from sports to transport to infrastructure. Beyond the public sector, governments should oversee and encourage private sector engagement to accelerate innovation in health care.
Governments can play a vital role in linking private sector players to the right processes to enable change and innovation in the sector, as well as engaging citizens in the journey of co-creating solutions to tackle the diabetes challenge. When there is ownership of the issue, everyone is empowered to make a difference and effect the changes needed.
In his closing remarks, Minister for Health, Mr Gan Kim Yong, urged delegates to take a bold approach in the global fight against diabetes. He highlighted the need for:
a. Decisive action to move swiftly and adopt innovative approaches to help improve care, reduce costs and bring about reforms to transform care for citizens;
b. Inclusivity to involve and engage the community, especially vulnerable groups in the society, to strengthen the sustainability of health programmes and reach out to those who need them; and
c. Open collaboration within and beyond national boundaries, as public-private partnerships can produce synergistic effects in improving population health outcomes.
Singapore will consolidate the findings and key learnings of the Conference into a summary report, which will be made publicly available for governments’ reference in our continuous fights against diabetes and other non-communicable diseases .
MINISTRY OF HEALTH
27 NOVEMBER 2018