Professor Satkunanantham s/o Kandiah, Director of Medical Services (DMS) of the Ministry of Health, will be relinquishing his appointment with effect from 1 January 2014, after spending almost a decade in the Ministry. Prof Satku will be returning to clinical practice and teaching at the National University Health System (NUHS), and will concurrently take up the role of Director of a new Centre for Health Systems and Policy Research in the Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health. He will be taking up other appointments within the healthcare family, and these will be announced at a later date. Associate Professor Benjamin Ong will succeed him as DMS, and be appointed as DMS-Designate on 1 December 2013.

2. During his tenure as Director of Medical Services, Prof Satku has made invaluable contributions to policy formulation, professional education and standards, and healthcare innovations. He has led the healthcare profession with distinction, providing vision, energy and boldness in driving the transformation of our healthcare system to meet the challenges of an ageing population and the rising expectations of our population.

3. Prof Satku oversaw a major transformation of the system for education and training of medical professionals, strengthened healthcare regulatory capabilities, significantly enhanced Singapore’s pandemic emergency preparedness, and built a strong foundation for quality assurance and safety in our healthcare institutions. As the leader of the healthcare professional community, he has unstintingly pushed for our healthcare professionals to develop, grow and improve, anchored on a foundation of strong values, ethos and service to the public.

4. Prof Satku introduced the Family Physician Register and championed the development of the primary care masterplan, to build a strong primary and continuing care system outside the acute hospital setting, to provide a more patient-centric healthcare service to our patients.

5. Prof Satku also led the development of a national mental health blueprint and policy for Singapore. This looked into the mental health needs of all sectors of the population and the resources for helping in the recovery and rehabilitation of the mentally ill. The recommendations were subsequently adopted and continue to be implemented as the national mental health programme.

6. In the area of public health, Prof Satku’s clinical leadership guided the healthcare community’s response to crises, such as the influenza A (H1N1) pandemic in 2009. Proportionate clinical measures, adapted to changing risk assessments as the situation
evolved, were implemented, that had at their core, concern for the well-being of all segments of the population.

7. For representing the best of his profession and his outstanding contributions towards the improvement of our healthcare system, Prof Satku was awarded the Public Administration Medal (Gold) in 2009.

8. A neurologist with research interests in neuroimmunology and neuroepidemiology as well as a champion of the use of healthcare information technology for quality and process improvement in patient care, A/Prof Ong has held various leadership appointments in his 27-year-career at the National University Hospital (NUH). These include key posts such as Chief Executive of NUHS, Chairman of the hospital’s Medical Board, as well as Chair of the Department of Medicine at the medical school and the NUH.

9. The Ministry of Health wishes to express its deepest appreciation to Prof Satku for his astute leadership and sterling contributions to the Ministry and to the Singapore healthcare system, and at the same time extend a warm welcome to A/Prof Benjamin Ong as the new DMS.

21 NOVEMBER 2013

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