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From cooking classes to physio: Services you might not know exist at your local polyclinic

From cooking classes to physio: Services you might not know exist at your local polyclinic

Published on

10 Dec 2023

Published by

The Straits Times

SINGAPORE – The role of primary care, provided by polyclinics and private general practitioners’ clinics, has evolved from being just the first port of call for people who are sick, to also including keeping people healthy.


Health Minister Ong Ye Kung told The Straits Times: “There’s now a big overlap between what is primary care and what is preventive care. And our whole idea and definition and implementation of primary care is now much broader in scope.”


Building health, on top of curing illnesses, is a task doctors cannot shoulder on their own. They need to link up with other players in the community who can provide ongoing care, support and encouragement so patients continue to lead healthier lifestyles.


Likewise, Mr Ong said: “We don’t expect polyclinics to be standalone clinical institutions any more – they have to link themselves up with the whole community.


“We are going to activate various groups to do all kinds of activities, such as encouraging people to quit smoking, eat healthy, exercise, and getting seniors to come out of their homes, to be socially connected. All these are very critical and crucial health interventions in the community.”


Read more here.


Broad range of services at polyclinics today


The new Sembawang Polyclinic is typical of the 25 polyclinics Singapore has today, and the nine more that will be built by 2030. All provide four categories of care: acute, chronic, mother and child, and preventive.


Navigate various patient journeys through Sembawang Polyclinic.




Acute care is for people who are sick and need to see a doctor for treatment. They may suffer from illnesses such as the flu, or may have conditions such as diarrhoea, conjunctivitis or a wound. Patients requiring acute care account for one in four polyclinic visits.




About 40 per cent of patients at polyclinics are there to receive regular chronic care for conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels, asthma, and heart diseases.


Joint service for mother-and-child pairs


This was introduced to allow mothers to be treated at the same time as their children (up to the age of three), instead of needing separate appointments.


Children need to go to the polyclinic several times in their first 1,000 days of life to check their development and get vaccinations to protect them against more than a dozen infectious diseases that can cause severe illness and death in infants.


During the same visit, mothers can get help with a range of problems, including breastfeeding difficulties or postnatal blues.




Singapore has been increasingly moving towards preventive healthcare, with the latest initiative being Healthier SG. The idea is to help people maintain good health and to diagnose any serious illnesses early, to improve treatment outcomes.


Polyclinics now offer services such as Pap smears and mammograms to check for cervical and breast cancers, respectively. They also offer free or subsidised vaccinations under the National Adult Immunisation Schedule, which includes the pneumococcal and influenza vaccines.


Sembawang Polyclinic has a Health and Wellness Studio dedicated to promoting wellness programmes including hands-on healthier cooking classes and exercise sessions, such as yoga classes.



Source: The Straits Times © SPH Media Limited. Reproduced with permission.



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