The greatest wealth is health. The health of a population is a key indicator to a successful country, as it influences economic and developmental growth. Understanding this importance, the HPB is dedicated in its pursuit to increasing the quality and years of healthy life and prevent illness, disability and premature death for all Singaporeans.
As the governing agency which oversees the nation's health-related matters, HPB implements a kaleidoscope of interactive programmes which reach out to the masses. Some of its programme offerings include The National Steps Challenge and I Quit campaign, both aimed at encouraging Singaporeans to kick bad habits while adopting healthier ones.
We speak to Lee Yuelong, a HPB Scholar who is now serving as an Assistant Manager with the organisation. He shares with us about the opportunities he has received as a HPB Scholar, and the meaningful health promotion projects he is currently involved with at work.
What ignited your interest to take up the HPB scholarship?
I strongly believe in having a meaningful career. This means that at the end of the day, I must be able to conclude that whatever I have done has a higher purpose. In taking up the HPB scholarship and by extension starting my career with HPB, I am able to bring meaning to my university education and future career.
To me, the HPB scholarship is not just about the tangible benefits, but more importantly, the commitment to helping others lead healthier lives. Health is something I hold close to my heart because I have family members who suffer from chronic diseases, and I see how it affects their daily lives. This spurred me on to take up the commitment and apply for the HPB scholarship.
Share with us the opportunities you have received as an undergraduate. How were these experiences beneficial to you?
During my school holidays, I had the opportunity to intern with the Substance Abuse Department at HPB. During this time, I was involved in policy work with regard to smoking cessation in Singapore and a part of the "I Quit" campaign. This allowed me first-hand experience into the programmes which HPB implements, to encourage Singaporeans to live healthier lives. This alone reaffirmed my decision in taking up the scholarship, because it gave me a sense of fulfilment and meaning in what I was doing and then future career.
Apart from an internship, HPB was also very supportive with my educational pursuits and sponsored my exchange programme with Washington University. The exchange programme expanded my view of the world, allowed me to better engage in global thinking and helped me understand the importance of thinking outside the box.
Tell us about your role at HPB. What are some of your responsibilities and projects you are working on?
I am currently with the Physical Activity and Weight Management department at HPB. My main responsibilities at work is to oversee weight management and physical activity programmes. My main focus is on a programme named "Lose to Win". I feel that this programme is very meaningful because it aims to help Singaporeans and PRs (Permanent Residents) with a BMI above 25, kick-start a journey towards a healthier lifestyle.
Currently, I am involved in the planning and design of a new 12-Week Flexi Programme, which leverages on the National Steps Challeng™ and the Healthy 365 mobile application. Being responsible for this programme's implementation, has also exposed me to other operational aspects at HPB - recruitment, operations, collaborations and evaluation.
Apart from that, I am also involved in HPB physical activity programmes such as Sundays @ the Park, Fitness at Work, i-Run and Sunrise in the City.
Assistant Manager, Obesity Prevention Management Division
What challenges do you face in seeing these projects through? How do you try to overcome these challenges?
Weight loss is a difficult journey that requires a strong social support structure. My team and I try to overcome this challenge, by nudging participants throughout their 12-Week programme towards healthier behaviours (e.g. to exercise more or attend a nutritional talk). I also maintain and manage a group of "Lose to Win" past participants, who now take on the role as social support to provide motivation for current participants.
What do you look forward to in your career with HPB?
I am looking forward to being involved in more campaigns and programmes which will undoubtedly stretch me but, ultimately allow me to contribute more. Over time, as the tasks and responsibilities get more complex, I am certain that the sense of achievement and meaning will also become more profound.
Do you have any advice for aspiring HPB scholars to bear in mind as they apply for the scholarship?
Aspiring HPB scholars must introspect their true reason for applying for the scholarship and express that during the scholarship application. Getting the scholarship is a commitment to the betterment of the health of all Singaporeans. They must also bear in mind what they can contribute, especially in relation to the different departments and programmes at HPB.
Apply for the scholarship only if you are sure that a career in that organisation will bring meaning to your life. If financial reasons are your main motivations, consider a bond-free scholarship rather than a bonded one.