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Senior Minister of State for Health, Dr Janil Puthucheary,

Friends, Colleagues,

Ladies and Gentlemen.

I am very happy that we are opening this new facility here.

2. Even till today, from time to time, many residents come forward to me to thank the Ministry of Health, Government or Multi-Ministry Taskforce, for helping us out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

3. My answer is always the same. I appreciate their thanks, but I always say, no, everyone did their part. And indeed, when we look back at how we managed COVID and got out of the pandemic, everyone did their part. Everyone who wore a mask, isolated yourself when you were sick, and very importantly, everyone who took the vaccine.

4. I know of many friends, including Singaporeans, who were very reluctant to take the vaccine. But the great majority took the vaccine, and that is how we achieved resilience as a society and resumed our lives. That is one major lesson of COVID. When it comes to a pandemic or health crisis, we need everyone to do your part.

5. In healthcare, it is not just the doctors, nurses or the Ministry that is saving lives and running the hospitals. They play a very important part. But very importantly, every one of us also has to do our part. How we take care of our health, and work with doctors and respect their views and take their advice. We can do our part to quit smoking, exercise, sleep well and adopt life habits such as cutting down on salt and sugar. All these are things that we can do to help ourselves. These are all little acts that together become a gift of life.

6. Very importantly, one of the great things that every individual can do is, if you are eligible, donate blood. That is how each of us can be a part of this gift of life.

7. Today, we use about 120,000 units of blood a year. With a super-aged population and increased healthcare needs, we expect it to go up to beyond 160,000 units of blood per year by 2030. CEO of the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) Dr Mimi Choong told me there are two uncertainties with these numbers. One is we do not know if 160,000 is the right estimate. Hopefully, it will be lower but it is very likely it can be higher.

8. Secondly, which is the greater uncertainty, can we actually collect 160,000 units of blood a year? HSA, together with the Red Cross and all our partners, have been working very hard. Mimi talked about a decentralised strategy. We have blood banks in Outram, Woodlands, Punggol and Jurong East so that we can reach out to the community as much as possible. 

9. The second and more important strategy is to work with everybody, including community partners, corporates, organisations, institutions, universities and schools. We want to reach out to as many people as possible for blood donation.

10. We just had a performance by a group who made drums out of recycled materials. More and more, we are using renewable energy. What is renewable energy? It is energy that does not exhaust itself. You use it and more will be produced, whether it is wind, the waves, or the sun.

11. Likewise, our blood is renewable. Give blood and your body produces more. It is like antibodies. Fight the virus, and after that your body will produce more antibodies. So give blood because your body can produce more. And if all of us can take that approach, all of us can be part of this great effort, which is a gift of life. This is what makes our healthcare system effective, and our societal resistance and health strong.

12. Lastly, I thank everyone who has put in so much blood, sweat and tears to set up this blood bank. Thank you very much. I look forward to the participation of everybody to make Singapore a healthy population.

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