As a key agency which oversees national health promotion and disease prevention programmes, the HPB is committed to spearhead health education, promotion and prevention programmes and create a health-supportive environment for Singaporeans.
Backed by behavioural insights and data, HPB constantly adopts innovative approaches to develop and implement programmes which help Singaporeans to incorporate healthy living practices and habits as part of their lifestyle. Overlapping agendas notwithstanding, these programmes incorporate a multi-pronged approach comprising various campaigns and technological initiatives, in order to connect with the widest possible audience.
Tang Rei-En and Leo Zhen Ling perform very different roles at HPB, but both have the common desire to promote healthy living. We speak to these two recipients of the HPB Local Merit Undergraduate Scholarship, who explain how tackling this common goal in the respective work they do, help make healthy living accessible to all Singaporeans.
Why Did You Choose to Pursue a Career with HPB?
Tang Rei-En: I did not want to work somewhere just for the sake of earning money or building a career. I guess it is a millennial proclivity to pursue careers that are meaningful! What I liked about HPB was that it gave me a chance to help make Singapore better and improve society. That, to me, was quite an important factor.
Leo Zhen Ling: What sparked my interest in HPB was the fact that people are increasingly falling prey to chronic diseases, and most of these can be linked to unhealthy lifestyle habits. I felt that by joining HPB, I would be able to play a part in improving the lifestyles of not just the current, but also future generations. I hope that one day my children will grow up in a society where healthy living habits can be prevalent.
HPB Local Merit Undergraduate Scholar
Tell Us about Your Roles and Responsibilities at Work.
Rei-En: I am currently working on the mobile web application version of HealthHub. It is a really useful application that lets you access your health records, medical appointments, and other health information using a Singpass account anywhere - even while you are on the go.
My godmother recently asked what I was doing at work, so I started showing her how to use the application’s features. We have a module for caregivers for example, where they can view the health records and medical appointments of those they are caring for, as long as they have been granted access. As my godmother works with the elderly, she was excited about the features and could not wait to share this useful resource with her colleagues. That incident made me realised the importance of my role and the work HPB does.
Zhen Ling: I am with the Obesity Prevention Management division, Healthy Food & Dining department. Currently, I am managing a grant scheme that aims to supply healthier ingredients to food and beverage outlets, so that healthy eating does not only take place at home. With Singaporeans dining out more frequently, by increasing the accessibility and availability of healthier food choices, we hope that they can enjoy healthy meals with their family and friends.
Furthermore, I am also working on campaigns to nudge Singaporeans to choose healthier options, be it purchasing food and drinks or buying groceries at the supermarket. Hopefully over time, more Singaporeans will realise that healthier options can also be tasty and convenient!
Positive Experiences Aside, Are There Challenges Too?
Rei-En: I guess one of the bigger challenges for me is navigating the transition from school to the workforce. I am still learning about the different functions of the organisation. From how to present complex information, how a timeline works, how things flow, and how to get things accomplished on time.
Zhen Ling: At HPB, you have to be ready to take on roles and always be prepared to step out of your comfort zone. This can be frightening at the start! When I was handling the grant scheme about a month into the job, I had to make a presentation to senior management, which was pretty daunting as a new employee. That being said, it was an enriching experience, and a good platform for me to hone my communication, public speaking and cognitive skills.
Leo Zhen Ling
HPB Local Merit Undergraduate Scholar
Healthy Food and Dining
Obesity Prevention and Management Division
Do You Have Any Advice for Aspiring HPB Scholars?
Rei-En: You should have passion to do something good, or be ready to make a strong contribution or to make change happen. Without that, while you might still be able to do your job, you would not find much meaning in your work.
Zhen Ling: I think they must be passionate about serving the community, because we deal not only with internal stakeholders, but also the masses. In the work that we do at HPB, we constantly have to engage the general public to find out what their concerns are, and whether we are addressing these concerns adequately.
Lastly, it is important to never lose sight of your objective in joining HPB - to eventually help create a nation of healthy people. We have to remember that although work can be tiring and goals will take time to bear fruit, our role is instrumental in shaping healthier lifestyles and society for our future generations.