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Food & Health

Health Screening for Everyone

Health screenings help to detect medical conditions early so that early intervention can be put in place. This does not necessarily mean that the disease can be prevented; after all, whether screenings result in improved health outcomes depend on several factors, including lifestyle factors and the characteristics of the disease.

Screening tests can lead to primary and secondary prevention. Information about your health condition can give doctors a wealth of information that can make a difference between life and death. Some diseases only start showing symptoms in the late stages of the progression of the disease, and early detection can help slow down the progression. Doctors can also advise you on certain lifestyle choices that you are making (such as excessive smoking or drinking, or working in a highly stressful job).

Primary prevention
Aim: to prevent the onset of diseases by reducing associated risks or by enhancing resistance to the disease. This could mean targeting behaviours (like smoking, or excessive eating), or exposure to disease agents (for example, via vaccinations).

Secondary prevention
Aim: to control the progression of the disease at the earliest stages by putting interventions in place. This is done by detecting, and then treating any pathological changes detected.

Health screening tests can thus go a long way in improving your quality of life. 

The Health Promotion Board (HPB) has categorised screening tests available now into three categories depending on the target groups. Type 1 are beneficial for everyone; one does not need to present with risk factors to be screened. Type 2 tests are for those who have risk factors present, such as family history or exposure to disease agents. Type 3 list tests that do not actually have enough information to support their use. For example, to test for cervical cancer, pap smear is typically used, but you will find in the list that fall under Type 3 that ultrasound pelvis or computed tomography (CT) pelvis are not recommended to the public. For a full list of tests in each category, click here.

Things to take note:

  1. Some tests require you to fast the night before so do check with your doctor.
  2. PAP smear tests should be done about a week after the last day of your menstruation.
  3. Some tests are not to be done on pregnant women, so if you are pregnant or suspect that you might be, remember to divulge this information to your doctor.
  4. Health screenings require an appointment to be made.
  5. Things to bring: NRIC / work permit / passport, medical records, existing medications, vitamins.
  6. Health screening can be done at the polyclinics and hospitals. Singhealth polyclinics provide screening for important diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and cholesterol only. Hospitals and private clinics offer health screening packages that you could choose from to suit your needs. It is also noteworthy that some companies offer health screening packages for their employees, so do check if your company provides that. 

Financial Matters

According to HPB, screenings is heavily subsidised for Singaporeans and Permanent Residents. Some groups of people are also eligible for further subsidides:

  1. Under the SG50 Cancer Screening Initiative, you will be entitled to fully paid-for cancer screening tests if you are aged 50 years and above with a Health Assist card. Health Assist cardholders can also claim up to $18.50 for each screening-related and follow-up consultation, for a maximum of two times each year.
  2. If you belong to the Pioneer Generation (PG), the cost of the screening tests (offered under Screen for Life) is also fully subsidised. PG cardholders can also claim up to $28.50, for each screening-related and follow-up consultation, for up to two times per year.
 
No one should be prevented from tests due to financial difficulties. If more assistance is required, speak to a medical social worker present at the hospitals or polyclinics. 
 
(Information obtained from Health Promotion Board)
 
This article is an extension of an article found in the print edition of Singapore’s Child July Issue 176 with the headline ‘’Screen Your Way to Better Health’.
 
Do you have some reservations or concerns about health screenings? Share them with us below.