Why a ‘fat tax’ won’t work in Singapore- TODAY 12 Nov 2013

Chicken rice Singapore

I’ve been pretty quiet recently and I apologize to readers. After my book “Myth or Magic: The Singapore Healthcare System” was published in September, I decided to take a short break from writing. The last 2 months have been intellectually invigorating. They were spent traveling around the region, looking at different models of care, new ideas in healthcare and health systems, and speaking to lots and lots of people- healthcare professionals, policy makers, patients, average citizens etc.

I am starting or rather re-starting writing and kicked off with a piece on ‘fat taxes’ published in TODAY earlier this week. ‘Fat taxes’ have become very topical policy-wise internationally but this can be dangerous. I wanted to highlight that policy adoption across geographies is really very difficult and requires a very deep expert understanding of the technical content behind the policy as well as a very nuanced appreciation of the local context.

One particular quote I think very salient here is from former Taiwanese Deputy Health Minister Dr Chang Hong-Jen who reflecting on the reforms in the Taiwanese health system in the late 1980s and 1990s, said the Taiwanese health system is “a car that has been domestically designed and produced, but with many components imported from over ten other countries”.




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