SPEECH BY DR AMY KHOR, SENIOR MINISTER OF STATE FOR HEALTH, AT THE SINGHEALTH TRANSPLANT AWARENESS WEEK 2014 OPENING CEREMONY, 17 OCTOBER 2014

Professor Ivy Ng, Group CEO of SingHealth,

Professor London Lucien Ooi, Director of SingHealth Transplant,

Dr Brian Goh,

Distinguished guests,

Teachers and students

A very good morning to all.

Introduction

It gives me great pleasure to be with you at the opening ceremony of SingHealth Transplant Awareness Week 2014.

2.            Now into its fifth year, this signature event continues to raise public awareness on the importance of organ and tissue donation and celebrate the gift of life that organ transplants bring.

3.            On average, more than 500 people are still on the waiting list for a suitable organ donor each year. The growing demand is a constant reminder for us, as a society, to do more for those whose only hope for a new lease of life is to receive a life-saving organ transplant.

Increasing Youth’s Awareness through Education and Research

4.            I am very heartened to see how SingHealth Transplant has gone a step further to incorporate research and education into their outreach efforts this year.

5.            This inaugural Transplant Youth Symposium and poster competition is a commendable effort. The symposium not only provides a platform for the younger generation to learn more about organ transplants but enables them to delve into issues surrounding organ and tissue donation at a deeper level as well.

6.            Over 19 teams from 10 secondary and tertiary level schools participated in the poster competition this year. I had the chance to meet some of the students and took a look at their research posters earlier. I am very impressed by the quality of their work which reflects their strong interest and spirit of inquiry in organ transplants, not exactly a subject that easily resonates with young people.

7.            The winning submissions from Holy Innocents’ High School and Hwa Chong Institution examined the knowledge of, and attitudes toward, organ and tissue donation. Both research papers showed that the level of support for organ and tissue donation was a function of knowledge and education on the topics. Hence, clearly, efforts like this annual SingHealth Transplant Awareness Week are much needed to encourage more Singaporeans to consider organ and tissue donation. There are also interesting ideas from our youths.  For example, students from River Valley High School proposed a rather novel idea of transplanting organs from one species to another. Without inquiring into the ethical issues of such a procedure, it could potentially lead to a breakthrough in how transplants may be carried out in years to come.

MOH’s Publicity Programme

8.            At this point, I would also like to share that the Ministry of Health is working on publicity campaigns to increase the public’s awareness of, and improve the buy-in towards organ and tissue donation. For the upcoming campaign, we aim to remind the public on the benefits of organ and tissue donation and to encourage individuals to discuss their views and decisions on organ donation with family members and loved ones. This was also the finding of one of the research papers; family support is important. Through this open sharing, we hope that the family members would be more ready to honour the organ and tissue donation decisions of their loved ones when called upon to do so.

9.            As we continue efforts to create greater awareness about organ and tissue donation, it is equally important to train a strong pipeline of medical and healthcare professionals in transplant medicine to support the demand for this life-saving procedure.

10.         It is with this in mind, that the inaugural SingHealth Transplant Academic Meeting was started this year. The Academic Meeting will no doubt enable our doctors, nurses and allied health professionals to hone their skills and knowledge and learn best practices from renowned practitioners from Japan, the Netherlands and the United States. Your strong support in this important area of work makes a real difference in the lives of our patients.

Conclusion

11.         Organ transplants are often known as a gift of life and hope.  We will continue our efforts to engage Singaporeans on this important life-saving and life-changing topic. At this juncture, let me congratulate all teams who have participated in the poster competition. They have shown their strong spirit of inquiry which bodes well for our future. Congratulations!

12.         On this note, I wish you all a fruitful and fulfilling experience at this year’s SingHealth Transplant Awareness Week.

13.         Thank you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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