Mr Gerald Giam Yean Song asked the Minister for Health (a) how Singapore’s doctor-to-population ratio and nurse-to-population ratio compares with other developed countries; and (b) whether the Ministry plans to increase the manpower capacity in the public healthcare system in the next five years.
Mr Ong Ye Kung: Singapore’s registered doctor-to-population ratio and nurse-to-population ratio in 2020 were 2.6 doctors and 7.4 nurses per 1,000 population respectively. These ratios are on par or higher than other advanced Asian economies like Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan. However, Japan has a significantly higher ratio for nurses, at 11.8, but it also has a much higher proportion of elderly in its population compared to Singapore.
However, our ratios are generally lower than western OECD countries. There are however many factors at play here, including clinical practices, operating environments, healthcare financing policies including the role of insurance, and western advanced economies generally having more generous social welfare systems funded by higher taxes. All these factors contributed to higher demand and supply for healthcare services. We learn from all systems in the world, but our objective is not to blindly emulate the high ratios in the western system.
Nevertheless, due to our ageing demography, and rising incidence of chronic illnesses, we expect the demand for healthcare to increase significantly. This will lead to a concomitant increase in national healthcare professional workforce, from 73,000 today to 93,000 by 2030.
Our bigger challenge, is not merely to increase manpower to meet demand, but to improve the health of our population, and constantly evolve our model of care, to ensure we meet the healthcare needs of patients and keep costs affordable.
Ministry of Health
11 January 2022