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Ustaz Muhammad Azri Bin Azman, Chairman, Muhammadiyah Health and Day Care Centre (MHCC)


Ustaz Shaik Hussain Shaik Yacob, Former Chairman, MHCC


Mdm Roszanah Binte Abdul Salim, CEO, MHCC


Dr Gerard Ee, Chairman, Agency for Integrated Care (AIC)


Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen


1.             I would like to extend my congratulations to MHCC on your 25 years of service to the community. Muhammadiyah Association, which you are part of, is 65 years old and Muhammadiyah Home is 30 years old. This is a year of great numbers and we are celebrating many milestones. Thank you very much for many years of service to society and the community of Singapore.


Muhammadiyah’s history and role in the community


2.             Today we are celebrating 25 years of MHCC. 25 years is not a short history in the context of Singapore. You were established at the height of the Asian financial crisis, and you encountered SARS, the global financial crisis and COVID-19. Over the past 25 years, you expanded your services from just a social day centre to become a senior care centre, offering rehabilitation, dementia day care and medical counselling for patients. Many of you must have been very stout hearted and resilient. Whatever came your way, you have overcome the obstacle. Thank you very much for being a pillar of support for our community.


3.             In 2022, the Ministry of Health (MOH) called out to you to operate an Active Ageing Centre (AAC) and you stepped up and opened an AAC in Yishun. We are placing a lot of emphasis on AACs. It is not that we are not placing emphasis on healthcare. In fact, our hospitals’ emergency departments and wards are crowded. After the COVID-19 pandemic, we discovered that many more people are falling sick, especially seniors. Once they fall sick with an influenza or pneumococcal infection for example, they may require a hospital stay. Things have changed for hospitals the world over after the COVID-19 pandemic and we have started to realise the impact of ageing on our society and healthcare system. We will try our best to expand the capacity of our healthcare system as much as possible.


4.             But we cannot keep putting out fires. We have to prevent fires and to make sure that our population is kept as healthy as possible. There are things that we do day to day that will make a huge difference. Don’t wait until we fall sick, go to the hospital and look back and regret that we should have eaten less salt, less sugar and exercised more. For seniors especially, their biggest enemy is loneliness and not being socially connected. Even if they live with family members, sometimes they feel lonely. That is where AACs come in.


5.             We want to make sure that there is an AAC where we build a community and a social network, where you can play games together, learn something together and eat together. Form those social networks and we will be doing one big favour to save the lives of our seniors. We are expanding the number of AACs and more importantly, we need to change the way AACS operate. We will be resourcing them more.


6.             I will summarise three things that need to change. First, outreach must be improved. When you serve an area, try to know every senior. If you cannot know every senior, at least try to know every senior who might be lonely or staying home alone and who might not be mobile, and reach out to them.


7.             After that, befriend them. Befriending is the toughest because you would need to mobilise and harness as many volunteers as you can. The volunteers can call on them once a week or once a fortnight. We have tried that in Sembawang and it was very encouraging.  


8.             Third is when you engage them and invite them to the AACs to eat, play games and sing karaoke together. That is when they start being connected again. We will make a big difference. I hope we can work together and start to do this for our AACs. If we are successful in transforming the AAC at Yishun, MOH and AIC will invite you to open even more AACs and we will support you.


9.             When you look at all the things that are happening in the Singapore society, ageing is probably the biggest social development. We have never experienced this in our whole history. With ageing, there are opportunities and challenges. Together with our community partners, we can make a difference with AACs.


10.          A social organisation like MHCC is a place of care, kindness and giving. We live in a world with many conflicts and unnecessary tragedies, mostly driven by politics and differences. They are not our fights. But for us, we always remember that we are part of humanity. As part of humanity, we must believe that every child deserves to grow up, and every innocent civilian deserves to have peace and stability, and to be with their family.

So whatever happens beyond Singapore, what we can do is to always stay united as Singaporeans. We can always offer our best wishes, our kindness, our prayers, and whatever help we can extend to others. So let that always be our ethos and I wish MHCC a happy 25th anniversary. Thank you.

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