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07 Nov 2022

5th Sep 2019

Distinguished colleagues and friends,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Good evening.

1.    It gives me great pleasure to join you at the 12th National Medical Excellence Awards (NMEA) Ceremony. This evening, we recognise outstanding professionals who have made significant achievements and contributions in advancing medical excellence.

The transformative power of research in healthcare

2.    As our population ages, our healthcare needs will not only grow, but also evolve. The healthcare system has to transform to meet these changes, and to ensure that Singaporeans will continue to receive appropriate and affordable care, while being sustainable in the long run. We need to continuously find innovative ways to improve clinical and service quality, as well as the way we deliver care.

3.   Investment in research and innovation is one of our key strategies in enabling transformation in healthcare. As we approach the end of the current Research,
Innovation and Enterprise (RIE) 2020 funding cycle, planning and engagements with the community and stakeholders are taking place to prepare for the next funding cycle. This will not only help us drive the advancement of innovative research, but also bring about better coordinated efforts and initiatives to galvanise the research community to create impact in our healthcare system.

4.   Tonight we recognise exceptional individuals whose research and innovation, have led to solutions that have improved care outcomes significantly.

5.   Adjunct Professor Goh Boon Cher from the National University Hospital is the recipient of the National Outstanding Clinician Scientist Award. Boon Cher is an internationally renowned and experienced cancer pharmacologist and Phase I clinical trial expert. He is highly regarded in the field of drug development by both academia and industry researchers. He has dedicated his efforts to start and grow the clinical trial unit in the Department of Haematology-Oncology at the National University Cancer Institute, Singapore into a world-class unit that offers state-of-the-art molecular profiling to select the most suitable patients for clinical trials.

6.   There are two recipients for the National Outstanding Clinician Award this year. First, we have Professor Aymeric Lim from the National University Hospital (NUH). Aymeric is an internationally recognised hand and reconstructive microsurgeon and one of the pioneer nerve surgeons in Singapore. He is highly regarded for his skills in restoring the nerve functions of brachial plexus patients, and restoring the quality of life for stroke, brain injury and tetraplegic patients. During his tenure as NUH’s Chairman Medical Board from 2008 to 2016, he championed and implemented patient safety initiatives, including the introduction of 100% procedural audits. This was later adopted by the Ministry of Health (MOH) and rolled out to all public healthcare institutions, reshaping the safety culture of healthcare services in Singapore for the better.

7.   Our second recipient for the National Outstanding Clinician Award is Associate Professor Chua Yeow Leng from the National Heart Centre Singapore (NHCS). Yeow Leng has championed the use of mitral valve repair surgery in Singapore and is a well-recognised leader in cardiology, contributing greatly to NHCS’ reputation for heart valve repairs in the region. Besides serving Singaporeans, he has also led teams of healthcare professionals in outreach and humanitarian missions worldwide and helped develop cardiac surgery capability in the Asia-Pacific Region.

Grooming successive generations of talents

8.   Even as we strive to continuously deliver impactful research, we need to concurrently invest in developing a robust pool of talents with deep skills and expertise, whose pursuit of excellence can help advance health outcomes for Singapore and beyond. Tonight, we would like to recognise two individuals, for their contributions and exemplary leadership in mentoring and inspiring their younger colleagues.

9.   The National Outstanding Clinician Mentor Award this year is awarded to Professor London Ooi from the Singapore General Hospital. London has always been actively involved in the development of general surgery in Singapore. His appointments in both postgraduate programmes and exit examinations allowed him to shape the evolution of surgical training and assessments for generations of general surgeons in Singapore. He has mentored and trained numerous clinicians and healthcare staff at SingHealth institutions, academic institutions and professional associations and in the region.

10.   The National Outstanding Clinician Educator Award this year goes to Associate Professor Tan Boon Yeow from St Luke’s Hospital. Boon Yeow is a trained Family Physician and is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Senior Consultant Physician at St Luke’s Hospital. Since 2003, he has been heavily involved in undergraduate and postgraduate residency and fellowship educational work. Boon Yeow helped to establish the first Family Medicine Residency Programme in the National University Health System and took over as the Programme Director. During his tenure as the Censor-in-Chief of College of Family Physician Singapore (CFPS), a Fellowship programme for the CFPS was established. It was accepted by the Australian College of General Practice for reciprocal recognition, allowing awardees to practise in the Australia healthcare system. He was also instrumental in helping to establish the Chapter of Family Medicine in the Academy of Medicine which promotes the recognition and development of Family Medicine as a specialty in Singapore.

Collaborating to create better care outcomes

11.   Earlier, I have shared about the importance of engaging the community and stakeholders to better coordinate efforts and initiatives to bring about impactful outcomes from research.

12.   A good example of this is the team driving the Singapore Integrated Diabetic Retinopathy Programme (SIDRP). SIDRP is this year’s winner of the National Clinical Excellence Team Award. This is a joint cluster programme between the National Healthcare Group Eye Institute and Singapore National Eye Centre. Diabetic retinopathy (DR) is a significant complication of diabetes. It is preventable if diagnosed early and treated appropriately. Since 2010, the improved screening programme developed through SIDRP has screened over 267,000 patients in the polyclinics, endocrinology clinics and community healthcare centres, optometry practices and primary care networks. The SIDRP system is a major paradigm shift in the management of DR benefiting patients directly while improving productivity and saving costs for the healthcare system.


13.   In closing, let me once again congratulate all our recipients this year. The awards not only recognise their outstanding achievements, but also spur healthcare professionals towards the common vision of excellence in healthcare for the benefit of our citizens. I wish everyone an enjoyable evening.

Thank you.

Category: Speeches