Media OutReach – 5 August 2022 – In line with nationwide efforts to combat diabetes, the National Healthcare Group (NHG) and Tanoto Foundation are spearheading a Diabetes Reversal Programme in Singapore. The Programme seeks to control blood sugar levels in diabetes patients through behavioural change without the need for medication or surgery. Co-funded by a S$2.6 million contribution from Tanoto Foundation and S$1 million from the NHG Fund, this initiative will boost diabetes research in primary care and the community.
Senior Minister of State for Health, Dr Janil Puthucheary visited Kallang Polyclinic today and graced the official launch of the Programme. During the event, Dr Janil observed how patients could be engaged, educated and empowered to prevent and delay the onset of diabetes, and the interventions that would be implemented during the key phases of the Programme.
Currently, obese individuals with early diabetes are prescribed glucose-lowering medications, or recommended to undergo bariatric surgery. While diabetes control can be achieved in this manner, achieving and maintaining weight loss for these individuals can be a window of opportunity for diabetes reversal.
The research team from NHG aims to study the barriers and facilitators which can help inculcate positive health behaviours. The team will also conduct a clinical trial for an intensive weight management regime in reversing early diabetes in obese patients. This involves close partnership between patients, doctors and dietitians to create special low-calorie meal plans for these patients, customised to the local palate.
Executive Advisor at Tanoto Foundation Mr Bey Soo Khiang, said, “As a philanthropic organisation, we add value by supporting ground-breaking research, which can be costly, and by contributing where it matters most. As some one million individuals in Singapore are projected to have Type 2 Diabetes by 2050, we hope our partnership with NHG can help bend the curve in the war against the disease. Most importantly, while research on diabetes reversal has been done in countries such as the United Kingdom, this collaborative Programme between NHG and Tanoto Foundation will be conducted in the local primary care setting, to better study and address how our diet, environment, and culture can affect health and disease patterns.”
Associate Professor Chong Phui-Nah, Chief Executive Officer of National Healthcare Group Polyclinics (NHGP) and Primary Care, said, “NHGP is committed to providing an effective multi-pronged approach to tackle diabetes. Apart from medical treatment, health education, patient engagement and empowerment of individuals are of paramount importance to help those at high-risk to modify their self-care behaviours and lifestyle, and to manage their diet and level of physical activity. Our aim is to better understand the challenges that patients face in their social environment and how we can better support them to take greater ownership of their health outcomes through research. The Diabetes Reversal Programme is one such study that proposes a new model of care to help patients reverse diabetes and manage their condition well.”
Professor Benjamin Seet, Deputy Group Chief Executive Officer (Education and Research) of NHG, said, “At NHG, we do things differently by putting the patient first, and focusing on real world research that directly leads to better health outcomes and quality of life. A good example would be the programme we are launching today – this partnership, where a philanthropic organisation like the Tanoto Foundation works closely with primary care doctors, dieticians and patients, right within the community, can only bring about impactful change.”
 Definition of Diabetes Reversal: Maintaining blood sugar levels below the diabetes range without medication.
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