Inaugural Citizens’ Jury reveals recommendations for the War on Diabetes

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SINGAPORE: A campaign to drink more plain water, promoting healthier home cooking and encouraging people to take the stairs more often – there are just some of the recommendations made by Singapore’s very first Citizens’ Jury (CJ) to help the government’s ongoing War on Diabetes.

After seven weeks of work including three full days sessions over weekends, the CJ presented their collated list of suggestions to combat diabetes to Senior Minister of State for Health Amy Khor at the Lifelong Learning Institute on Saturday (Jan 13). 

The CJ is a new engagement model which taps on the ideas of citizens to co-create and co-deliver new approaches to significant national issues.

Last October, the Ministry of Health (MOH) and Institute of Policy Studies came together to form the CJ on the War on Diabetes, and a total of 76 volunteers were selected from an open call.

The 76 are a varied group, comprising diabetes patients, doctors, clinicians, caregivers and members of the public, to ensure a diversity of views.

A total of 12 recommendations were compiled and presented to Dr Khor. 

Among them is the citizen-led #drinkplainwater campaign, which aims to reduce a person’s intake of liquid calories by making plain water more accessible by having more water coolers installed.

Another idea was to incentivise Singaporeans to take the stairs more often, encouraging them to go beyond clocking 10,000 steps a day by walking on flat ground. 

The Citizens’ Jury on War on Diabetes concludes as report presented to Dr Amy Khor. (Photo: Cheryl Goh)

The CJ even ventured into the area of government policies, and suggested that the Medisave claimable limit for the Chronic Disease Management Programme be raised from S$400 to S$750 per year, per account. This is to help diabetes patients cope with the financial costs of managing their disease.

After hearing the recommendations, Dr Khor said she was heartened by the commitment and enthusiasm of the CJ to work with MOH on tackling diabetes. 

“Over the past seven weeks, you sought advice from subject matter experts, deliberated and debated ideas to come to a consensus on the recommendations that you want to put forth,” she said.

“I will convey your recommendations to the Ministry of Health unedited and unchanged.”

Dr Khor added MOH will study the recommendations carefully and respond on the outcome within three months. 

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