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Professor Ng Wai Hoe, SingHealth Group CEO, 
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, 
          Good afternoon. It is my pleasure to join you today at the Singapore Health Inspirational Patient & Caregiver Awards (IPCA) 2024 where we honour a bumper crop of 56 awardees from different walks of life.
2.        I was speaking to Prof Ng and he was just remarking how much this has grown over the many years that we have been doing this and it reflects the importance of engaging the whole family, the whole community in our patients’ journey. I am very glad that we have a bumper crop of 56 this year. Since its inception in 2010, the IPCA has served as a platform to affirm our patients and caregivers for their strength, courage and resilience in the face of healthcare challenges. The awards recognise outstanding patient support groups that have partnered our healthcare teams to provide invaluable support to our patients and caregivers.
3.        Beyond celebrating these remarkable patients, caregivers and support groups here with us today, I am pleased to announce that this year, a new category has been introduced – the Inspirational Partner (Volunteer) category. To the volunteers among us who have selflessly devoted your time and energy to care for the patients in our healthcare institutions, we are privileged to have you join us this year. Today, we are honoured to celebrate you too. 
4.        The journey of each awardee demonstrates unwavering perseverance, courage and selflessness that inspire all of us. Awardees − you motivate us to strive to make a difference in the lives of more patients and their loved ones. If you do not mind, I am going to share a few stories today. 
Honouring our Inspirational Patients 
5.        Mr James Wong may be a familiar name to some of you. He was a proud representative of Singapore in discus throwing for three decades, winning a commendable 10 SEA Games gold medals and numerous silver and bronze medals before he retired in 2013. You know it is the mark of a really serious athlete when you only count the gold medals. It was the mindset of an athlete that spurred him on when he was diagnosed with bile duct cancer in early 2023. Knowing that the surgery to remove part of his digestive system would be a complex one, he devised a game plan, not unlike his sporting days. He began exercising twice a day, every day, to develop a strong and fit body that could withstand the health challenges that would come his way. 
6.        After the surgery, he had oral chemotherapy and a second surgery, he continued to set daily goals for himself. He maintained discipline and motivation in his recovery journey. He is currently writing a book on the importance of having a positive mindset and a structured plan towards recovery. He is also leading the charge to set up a support group for hepatobiliary patients at Changi General Hospital. His focused and goal-oriented attitude, even in the face of illness, is truly an inspiration for all of us. Congratulations James and thank you very much.  
Honouring our Inspirational Caregivers
7.        The awards also honour selfless individuals who have made significant sacrifices and demonstrated unwavering support to care for their loved ones.
8.        As first-time parents, Ms Nur’el Huda and Mr Salihan were blessed with a baby, Eisha, but they had a challenge as Eisha was born severely premature at just 25 weeks. She weighed a mere 710 grams, far below the average newborn weight of three kilograms. After spending seven months in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital, Eisha’s new life at home presented another set of challenges for her loving parents. They had to manage a very demanding feeding and medication regime, including administering milk through a feeding tube every three hours and medication every two hours, all while operating and monitoring her tracheostomy site and machine that were important for her care. Eventually, the couple made the very difficult decision for Mr Salihan to put his career on hold to care for Eisha full-time, while Ms Nur’el continued working as the sole breadwinner of the family. I am happy to share that it has been over a year since Eisha was discharged, and she is doing well, thanks to the dedicated care of her parents. Congratulations Mr Salihan, Ms Nur’el and baby Eisha!
Inspirational Volunteers Who Uplift Others
9.         IPCA’s newest category, the Inspirational Partner (Volunteer) category, is testament that ordinary individuals can play a crucial role in fostering a compassionate and supportive environment for our patients and for caregivers.
10.        Mr Arthur Leong is a 22-year-old university undergraduate who has been dedicating his time to volunteer at the NTUC Health Nursing Home (Tampines) since 2022 when his grandfather passed away. He often wondered if he might have taken better care of his grandfather or spent more time with him when he was alive, which is a thought that all of us have when our loved ones pass on. What could we have done differently? But in Arthur’s case, this also motivated him to volunteer with other senior citizens so that they would not feel lonely or neglected. He visits the nursing home at least three days a week for up to two hours at a time, despite his busy school schedule, and plays various games with the residents, talking to them and organising activities like gardening, art and baking classes. He believes that by engaging with the senior residents as a friend, he is also learning from them, and he is happy to have been a part of their fond memories in their silver years. Thank you very much for your dedication and your volunteerism. 
Acknowledging our Inspirational Patient Support Groups
11.        In addition to individuals who are inspiring, there are many Patient Support Groups that contribute their time and expertise to provide patients with information and guidance, and more importantly, they create a network to provide social and emotional support for people with shared experiences. For example, the Peritoneal Dialysis Warriors (PD Warriors @SG) from the National Kidney Foundation (NKF). The group was started by a patient with end-stage kidney failure, Ms Katharina Seng, during the COVID-19 pandemic, to allow peritoneal dialysis patients to support one another, answer questions and offer assistance, when needed. Ms Seng was motivated by her personal experience when she felt that peritoneal dialysis can be a very lonely journey, as patients perform long hours of dialysis at home, especially those who are living alone. You know you are hooked up to this machine, you do not have people around you, without social support, you cannot do anything. It can be a lonely experience. The core team of six patient leaders has made the support group a vital lifeline by organising home visits and structured peer support, to ensure that no member is left unaided.
12.        Among the group’s different initiatives, a hallmark of their dedication is their outreach activities and presentations at the public healthcare institutions. They passionately engage with renal physicians, Peritoneal Dialysis nurses and medical social workers to strengthen collaborations between patients and healthcare professionals in their shared Peritoneal Dialysis journey. Congratulations to PD warriors and Ms Seng. Thank you for all your hard work. 
13.        Patients and caregivers have a lot of practical knowledge and insights to offer from their own personal experiences with illness, caregiving and navigating the healthcare system. We are grateful that some of our past awardees have joined the SingHealth Patient Advocacy Network (SPAN), which comprises individuals who are passionate about driving a culture of patient advocacy in Singapore and where patients and caregivers work closely with the healthcare team to improve care delivery. Some of them are here with us today, lending support to their fellow inspirational patients and caregivers. Thank you to SPAN and all of the people who volunteer.
14.        Finally, in closing, I would like to extend my heartiest congratulations to all of today’s award recipients. Thank you for uplifting us with your positivity and zest for life.
15.       I would also like to express my thanks and deep gratitude to all participating institutions for doing their part in recognising the invaluable contributions of your patients, their caregivers and partners, and to SingHealth for organising this meaningful award ceremony. Thank you all very much.

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