Skip to content


Mr Robert Chew, Chairman, Singapore Hospice Council (SHC)

Dr Chong Poh Heng, Vice-Chairman of SHC

Ms Sim Bee Hia, Executive Director, SHC

Ladies and Gentlemen,

1.            A very good morning to everyone. I am delighted to join you today to launch the book ‘When a Child Has Serious Illness’, put together by SHC. This book is filled with bite-sized practical tips, drawn from many years of experience of the six contributors. It will certainly come in handy for caregivers and their loved ones.

Conversations on Palliative Care

2.            Over the last few decades, people generally tend to avoid talking about palliative care because of its association with death. While it is taboo for adults, it is even more heart wrenching when it is about children.

3.            But this is gradually changing. We now hear more open conversations about palliative care in our mainstream media. I want to thank SHC for your unwavering efforts in educating the public on palliative care. As the umbrella body representing the palliative care fraternity in Singapore, SHC champions sector-wide efforts in community engagement. The “Live Well. Leave Well.” campaign is one such commendable effort. It is perhaps a sign of changing attitudes, that we are holding this 10-day festival in an open space, in the heart of town, and in a building that symbolises curiosity and learning.     

4.            I want to extend my heartfelt gratitude to the Council, its member organisations and the fraternity, and especially the team of authors and contributors to this book, for your tireless dedication on this issue. Your commitment to helping individuals and families to navigate the complexities of palliative care deserves our applause.

National Strategy for Palliative Care

5.            The SHC is a valued partner of the Ministry of Health, and plays an important role in the development and implementation of the refreshed National Strategy for Palliative Care (NSPC) launched by Minister Ong Ye Kung in July this year. This national blueprint articulates our common goal of ensuring that all Singaporeans, regardless of age, have access to quality palliative care delivered by trained professionals, with support from a conducive palliative care environment.

6.            Today, I will briefly touch on two areas of work under the NSPC that are not only important for all patients, but also has particular significance for children with serious illnesses.

7.            First, we need close collaboration across institutions and disciplines, to ensure timely access to palliative care. We have built a strong system over the years to deliver quality palliative care for our young. Work in this area is led by the very dedicated teams at the KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital, National University Hospital, and HCA Home Hospice. In our tertiary hospitals, the paediatrics palliative care teams are highly experienced, and have built strong relationships with the Oncology, Intensive Care and Complex Care teams. There is also strong collaboration among the three institutions, evidenced by the timely referrals from the hospitals and acceptance by HCA Hospice, for continued care community. Such a seamless interface between hospital and community sectors is rare around the world. These good working relationships ultimately translate to better care for our young patients.

8.            Yet more can be done. For example, paediatric patients requiring palliative care have diverse conditions, with the majority suffering from non-malignant conditions. These illness trajectories are difficult to predict, so it is not easy to identify and achieve timely referrals for non-cancer patients. Our hospitals are starting to see more referrals to palliative care from different units besides oncology. This is a positive development, and we will continue to strengthen these efforts.

9.            Second, we need to raise awareness of Advance Care Planning (ACP) and encourage more open conversations about future care preferences. For adults, ACP allows them to express priorities, values and healthcare preferences before becoming unable to do so. For a child, having ACP conversations gives parents time to think about the options for their child before crisis happens. They also enable clinicians to make in-the-moment decisions. In both cases, ACP is an important resource to help patients and their loved ones in difficult moments, akin to how this book serves as a resource for parents facing one of life’s most profound challenges. I urge everyone to find time amidst your busy schedules to complete the ACP – for yourself as well as for your loved ones, regardless of your health condition today.


10.       In closing, I hope this book can be a reminder to all of us that even in life’s most challenging moments, there is strength and beauty to be found. Together, MOH and SHC will work towards a vision where quality palliative care is accessible to all who need it and where the journey of caregiving is marked not only by challenges but also by compassion, love, and support from the wider community.

11.       I wish SHC a successful “Live Well, Leave Well” campaign, and all of you all a pleasant day ahead. Thank you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *