Like Mr Richard Chin Koon Fong ("Time for awareness campaign on kidney failure"; Feb 26), we empathise with the plight of patients with kidney failure and their family members.
We agree that greater effort can be made to raise public awareness of end-stage renal diseases, and are heartened that voluntary welfare organisations, such as the National Kidney Foundation, have been engaging the public actively through preventive health programmes.
Diabetes mellitus and hypertension are the leading preventable causes of end-stage renal diseases in Singapore.
As such, the prevention, early detection and good management of these conditions are important to reduce the prevalence of kidney failure.
The Health Promotion Board (HPB) encourages people to live healthier lifestyles through regular physical activities, a balanced diet and staying smoke-free, which reduce the risk factors for diabetes and hypertension.
For adults aged 40 and older, screenings for diabetes and hypertension are available under the HPB's Integrated Screening Programme at participating general practitioner clinics. The recommended tests are free, and the GP consultation is subsidised for up to two visits a year, for Singaporeans who are on the Community Health Assist Scheme.
The HPB also has a Nurse Educator Programme, a chronic disease management programme that targets individuals with high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes, to equip them with the necessary skills to better manage their conditions, so as to delay or prevent the onset of complications such as end-stage renal diseases.
Disease management programmes are also available at our health-care institutions.
For example, under the Nephrology Evaluation, Management and Optimisation programme, developed by the National University Hospital and National Healthcare Group Polyclinics (NHGP), available at all NHGP polyclinics, early screening and initiation of kidney-protective medication slowed down the progression of kidney damage in suitable diabetic patients.
The Ministry of Health has initiated the Live On campaign (www.liveon.sg) since 2008 to raise public awareness of organ transplants.
Live On is a social awareness movement that presents organ donation as an act that embraces potential donors, recipients and their respective families.
For donors, it is an expression of the renewed life that a donor can bestow on someone else. For the recipients, it is the expression of hope fulfilled, and for the families of deceased donors, the possible comfort in their loss.
We will continue efforts in raising public awareness related to dialysis and organ donation.
Bey Mui Leng (Ms)
Director, Corporate Communications
Ministry of Health
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