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07 Nov 2022

25th Nov 2015

Prof Ivy Ng, Group CEO, SingHealth
Prof Kenneth Kwek, CEO, KKH
Prof Alex Sia, Chairman Medical Board, KKH
Ladies and gentlemen,

Good evening to all of you.

2.         It gives me great pleasure to join you this evening for the launch of KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital’s SG50 commemorative book, ‘Dear KKH, Hope in 50 Letters’. Let me start by saying thank you to all the story contributors who have made this possible.  

3.         Our life expectancy is now one of the highest, and our perinatal and neonatal mortality rates are among the lowest in the world. While many institutions and people have contributed to these good outcomes, KKH has played a unique and important role in our healthcare system, as the only Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Singapore. I am heartened that KKH has touched many lives through the decades. This book, Dear KKH, Hope in 50 Letters’, captures many important milestones in the history of KKH, told through individuals or groups of individuals whose lives were intertwined with that of KKH in meaningful ways.


4.         Not many may remember – or even be aware – that KKH started as a general hospital in 1858, before it became a hospital specialising in obstetrics and newborn infants in 1924. KKH has played a pivotal role in Singapore’s growth history and transformation. It saw Singapore through its birth-boomer years from the 1940s to the early 1970s, delivering record numbers of babies – at times over 100 babies every day. It is the birthplace of more than 1.2 million Singaporeans, including, I am sure, many of you here today.

5.         Many of KKH’s healthcare pioneers have helped to lay a strong foundation for the hospital. For example, the late Dr Benjamin Henry Sheares served as KKH’s Deputy Medical Superintendent from 1942 to 1945, and later became Singapore’s second President. He tirelessly pursued advancements in medical capability, research and advocacy for maternal, infant and child health. Passionate in developing healthcare professionals, he trained generations of doctors, nurses and allied health professionals in his lifetime. The late Professor S.S. Ratnam, who started the In-Vitro Fertilisation programme in KKH in 1982, delivered Asia’s first IVF baby in May 1983. IVF was a revolutionary scientific breakthrough at the time and created quite a buzz in the medical community, not just in Singapore, but also overseas.  


6.         We are proud of what KKH has achieved. KKH has transformed itself to become our flagship hospital for obstetrics and gynaecology, neonatology and paediatrics.  

7.         It has achieved several notable ‘firsts’. Aside from producing Asia’s first test-tube baby, KKH was also the first public hospital in Singapore to perform a radical abdominal trachelectomy for young women with early stage cervical cancer, but wish to retain their fertility. The Children’s Emergency has grown from strength to strength and is now one of the largest of its kind, with attendances of above 170,000 annually, while KKH’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit is the largest in South East Asia.

8.         I am glad to see that KKH continues to push the boundaries in clinical care, medical research and education in women’s and children’s health. These include DNA sequencing, which identifies disease-causing gene mutations in patients with brain malformations; and a clinically-proven and patented analgesia delivery system to provide personalised pain relief to women during labour. Just in August this year, KKH rolled out a new robotic bottle dispensing system at its Children’s Emergency Pharmacy to improve work efficiency and patient experience.

9.         These initiatives put KKH at the forefront of medicine. But medical excellence is more than just cutting edge research and innovations. It is, in fact, about the people, which matter most. Here, I am referring to the doctors, nurses, allied health workers, educators, researchers and administrators, who have been working hard and working together to provide high quality care to our Singaporeans.     


10.       Let me therefore take this opportunity to share a few out of the 50 stories from the book. One example is veteran paediatrician Professor Phua Kong Boo. Prof Phua made a significant breakthrough in his research in trialling the rotavirus vaccine, which led to a decrease in severe rotavirus gastroenteritis among our children.  KKH’s volunteers also play a part in the KKH story too. One example is retired midwife Sumitera Bte Letak, who has sacrificed her personal time to support and help patients as a volunteer with the KKH Women’s Cancer Support Group. Another group of volunteers is the “Caring Clowns”, who perform magic tricks to put a smile on the faces of young patients.


11.       I hope the 50 stories in this book will be a source of inspiration to the younger generation, to inspire them to have the same passion and resolve as the healthcare pioneers and volunteers described in the book. In closing, let me thank all of you once again for your contributions to this commemorative book. I wish all of you a pleasant evening.

Category: Speeches