Mr Leon Perera: Mr Chairman, over FY2016 to 2018, our public and total healthcare expenditure remained constant at 2.1% and 4.1% of our GDP respectively, approximately, but has since increased. For comparison, Japan spends 9.3%, Germany spends 10.7% and the OECD average is about 8.8%. However, these two years have shown that we need a much more anti-fragile system. Healthcare workers, including nurses, ambulance staff, junior doctors, are overworked the moment colleagues begin falling ill or are told to stay at home. This is not sustainable. I believe the Government understands that it needs to spend more. We see this in plans for upcoming infrastructure, like new polyclinics.
I would suggest that public mental health and dental care also needs to expand a lot faster than the headline rate. For mental health, I was told in a Parliamentary Question reply, that the number of psychologists here is only increasing by 4% annually. It is also not easy to qualify as a psychologist.
From conversations with my constituents in the Serangoon ward of Aljunied GRC, the wait times to see a public sector mental health professional or dentist can be long. For such conditions, intervening early is important to limit further health or social consequences. I would like to urge greater urgency in the expansion of our public dental healthcare capacity as well as our public mental healthcare capacity, especially at the tertiary level.
9 March 2022
Ministry of Health