Speech by Minister for Health Mr Gan Kim Yong at the Opening Ceremony of the 6th St-Jude Viva Foundation Forum, Friday 2 March 2012, 9.30am at the Tower Ballroom, Shangri-la Hotel Singapore


1          Good morning ladies and gentleman. I am very glad to join you today at the Opening Ceremony of the 6th St-Jude Viva Foundation Forum.

2          Each year our hospitals treat about one hundred new cases of childhood cancers. Of this hundred, almost half of the children would be below five years of age. The impact on those who are affected can be devastating, affecting not only the child but also the whole family. For the parents, they face the trauma of potentially losing a child. One parent may also have to stop working to care for the child, putting strain on the finances of the family.

Synergistic collaboration of CCF and Viva Foundation

3          Singapore is fortunate to have two strong, highly complementary charities – the Children’s Cancer Foundation and Viva Foundation for Children with Cancer – working synergistically to improve the care for children with cancer.

4          I had the privilege to officiate the 20th Anniversary Celebration of Children’s Cancer Foundation (or CCF) last month. Dedicated to the holistic care of the child with cancer, CCF has built a continuum of supportive care – both psychosocial and financial – starting from the time of diagnosis.

5          The Viva Foundation for Children with Cancer was founded in 2006 with the mission to improve the cure for children with cancer through medical excellence, training and education, and research. I am glad to note that Viva Foundation has worked collaboratively with CCF to meet the needs of children with cancer and their families. This is a worthy collaborative model for other charitable organisations to emulate.  

6          This Forum is an example. The St Jude-Viva Forum is a training and education platform. Viva works with NUH, NUS and St-Jude Children’s Research Hospital to bring in world leaders to share new knowledge with doctors and nurses in Asia, while CCF brings in Singapore doctors, nurses and health professionals to the Forum every year through a generous grant.

7          While Viva built the Viva-University Children’s Cancer Centre (or VUC) at NUH, CCF helped provide six social workers to care for the children there.

8          Last year, Viva received the donation of the whole 3rd floor of the new Novena Specialist Centre in Sinaran Drive. This new centre will be named the Viva-CCF Hub and cater to children suffering from cancer, as well as those with weakened immunity. I’m happy to have witnessed the signing of the agreement between Viva and CCF to collaborate on this project. This marks yet another milestone in Viva and CCF’s fruitful partnership in providing quality care for children with cancer.

9          When a child is diagnosed with cancer, he or she has to stop schooling to undergo chemotherapy. They undergo intensive treatment and often miss out on one whole year of school. Most end up cooped up at home.  Many tend to become isolated, angry and frustrated as they lose the opportunity to go to school to learn and socialise with other children.

10        Parents of such children will be pleased to know that the School@Viva-CCF Hub will provide a haven where children can continue learning and mingling with their peers. The Singapore Ireland Fund recently donated $250,000 to the Viva Foundation to build this school which will be run by CCF. Our children with cancer can look forward to learning core subjects and life skills in a safe environment.

Research for childhood cancer treatment

11        Tremendous progress has been made in the treatment of children with cancer. Just twenty years ago, the overall five-year survival for childhood cancers was about 40%. Through the work of St-Jude and many dedicated researchers throughout the world, today,  eight out of ten children diagnosed with cancer in Singapore survive more than five years, the most dramatic being childhood lymphoma where the five year survival increased from 26% in the 80s to the current 91%. I encourage NUHS and St-Jude to continue to work together and collaborate with other researchers, including international partners whose expertise we can tap on, to develop affordable, evidence-based healthcare to meet the needs of our patients.


12        The St Jude-Viva Forum is a fine example of how philanthropy and academia can work together to bring the best practices in childhood cancer care to Asia, and ultimately improve the outcome for children with cancer. I congratulate the Viva Foundation for this annual effort and wish every delegate “A Warm Welcome to Singapore and Happy Learning”.

13        I declare the 6th St Jude-Viva Forum open and wish all of you a fruitful forum ahead.

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