To make a strong Singapore, small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) will get more support to conduct health programmes from next year under a new SGD2 million initiative.
Christened SME Health+, the project plans to engage about 60,000 workers over 18 months, building on a year-long pilot that ended in September this year. The project will be run by Health Promotion Board (HPB) of Singapore.
The main intention of the HPB in running of the SME Health+ programme is to engage workers early before they develop chronic diseases by sparking small lifestyle changes; this will help reduce healthcare costs in disease treatment and management down the road.
The new initiative will offer SMEs a range of packages from health screening to weight management. It will run alongside existing HPB programmes such as the Healthy Workplace Ecosystem, which also caters to SMEs.
Sim Beng Koon, HPB’s director of workplace health and outreach, said, “SMEs are an important group to target as they employ the majority of the nation's workforce.”
Warees Investments, comprising about 30 employees, enrolled for the HPB’s pilot SME Workplace Health Package earlier this year. The employees went on a 4km walk around Botanic Gardens and along the way, they stopped at various stations to learn simple exercise routines and how to prepare healthier food.
Zarena Mator, strategic assistant at Warees, said, “The activity helped us become more aware of how to do simple and light activities at home and it also created an interest in staff to prepare healthy meals.”
It is important to mention that overall spending on workplace health programmes, including fitness activities and nutrition talks, has increased by about 15 per cent each year since 2014, from S$4 million, HPB said.
Sim said, “We have some measured success, there's still a long way to go, we still have a lot to do … Today, there is first a higher awareness of the need to keep healthy especially when you are productively engaged. Secondly, with all the activities we are doing today, I think we have a certain amount of success in making healthy programmes as pervasive as possible.”