Based on advanced estimates from the Ministry of Trade and Industry, the Singapore economy registered 1.4% GDP growth in Q3 2015 on a year-on-year basis, avoiding a technical recession. The manufacturing sector, weighed down by weak global demand, was the largest drag on growth. Gloomy sentiment prevails among businesses as the challenging global economy, coupled with high operating costs locally, heightens the risks that economic conditions may worsen.

According to the Singapore Business Federation, most businesses have seen volumes drop, and many have put hiring on hold. Such challenges and slower economic performance formed the backdrop for September’s general election. All the parliamentary seats were contested, with opposition parties calling for more diverse voices and opinions in parliament. However, the population voted otherwise. The dominant People’s Action Party (PAP) won 83 out of 89 seats in a landslide victory, securing close to a 70% share of votes. The election results were seen as a vote of confidence in the current government as well as an endorsement of the latest policies and reforms. On the social front, the Singapore population crossed the 5.5 million mark for the first time in June.

The number of citizens has grown due to a small rise in the birth rate and an increase in the non-resident pool. While the new entrants do bring some relief to the aging population situation, the graying challenge still remains an issue for Singapore. It has been reported that seniors aged 65 and older now constitute 13.1% of the civilian population, with those aged 85 years and older growing fast in numbers. As there are now 4.9 citizens in the working age band to every senior aged 65 and above, the government has introduced reforms to MediShield, the national insurance scheme, and Community Health Assist, which allows for subsidized general practitioner treatment. It has also launched the new Pioneer Generation Package.

Concurrently, some private insurers are becoming more responsive to the growing domestic silver market, introducing plans that allow the elderly to claim payouts for home care and hospice care services. With the burden of chronic diseases expected to climb, the government is already taking steps to mine its pool of patients’ data. The aim is to better match patient’s needs to services, as well as identify early interventions and behavioral changes that can help patients prevent, delay, or control chronic diseases.