DPM Heng Swee Keat at the Official Opening Ceremony of the NKF Dialysis Centre

DPM Heng Swee Keat | 19 May 2024

Speech by Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat at the official opening ceremony of the NKF Dialysis Centre at Blk 27 New Upper Changi Road on 19 May 2024.

Mr Arthur Lang and Mr Ang Hao Yao, Cairman and Vice-Chairman, The National Kidney Foundation,
Mr Lee Inn Peng, Honorary President, San Wang Wu Ti Religious Society,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Good morning. I am delighted to join you today to open this newly expanded NKF Dialysis Centre supported by the San Wang Wu Ti Religious Society.

As we heard from Arthur earlier, this centre is the second oldest community-based dialysis centre in Singapore and the oldest in the eastern part of the island.

More than 13,000 kidney patients have benefitted from dialysis treatment at this centre since 1989.

With this new refresh and expansion, I hope that NKF’s life-saving support can reach even more patients and contribute towards a healthier East Coast and Singapore in the years ahead.

Kidney disease is a pressing and growing health concern around the world, including here in Singapore.

An estimated 500,000 people in Singapore today suffer from different stages of kidney disease.

Left unchecked, kidney disease can lead to kidney failure – a debilitating condition requiring lifelong dialysis.
More than 9,000 kidney patients in Singapore currently undergo dialysis.

Like other chronic diseases, kidney disease affects more than just the physical health of patients. It also impacts their livelihoods as well as their families and loved ones.
As we grow older, our kidney functions also tend to decline, and the risk of kidney disease grows.

Given that almost 1 in 4 Singaporeans is expected to be older than 65 by 2030, we must therefore be even more vigilant about the risks associated with kidney disease.

Proactively taking care of our health, and properly managing any conditions that arise, is critical to ensuring our well-being and longevity – both individually and as a society.

In Singapore, we take a three-pronged approach in supporting our people to stay healthy.

The first prong is prevention. As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure.

Enabling our people to age well and to enjoy fulfilling golden years is a key part of the Government’s Forward Singapore agenda.

As we age, we should aim not just to live longer, but to live healthier for longer.
Small adjustments, especially when we are young, can make a big difference later in life.

Kidney disease is clearly linked to diabetes, obesity and hypertension. 

For example, patients with diabetes are more than four times as likely to develop chronic kidney disease as those without diabetes.

Preventing diabetes, through regular exercise and reducing our sugar intake, can delay and even prevent the onset of kidney disease.

So I am heartened to hear Arthur say that NKF is also focusing on upstream intervention.

Working with community partners, NKF is helping to raise public awareness, promote early detection, and encourage enrolment for HealthierSG programmes.

I also encourage our residents, especially our seniors and young seniors, to make the most of HealthierSG and take better charge of your health journeys.

You can use the beautiful parks and green spaces here in East Coast, as well as our many sports facilities – like this basketball court – to stay active.

In fact, today’s opening is taking place in conjunction with Bedok CC’s Wellness Day.

I invite you to visit the booths later by NKF, Health Promotion Board and other community partners to learn useful health tips – like kidney health and dementia awareness, cancer screening, and how to use the Healthy365 mobile application.

Even as we keep ourselves healthy, some of us may still face chronic diseases at some point or another. Which brings me to the second prong – the government provides high-quality, accessible healthcare and treatment.
This gives patients and their families some assurance that there is support for them at each stage of their journey in managing and dealing with their conditions.

Alongside our hospitals, polyclinics and GPs, organisations like NKF play an important role in providing such support to patients.

Over the past 55 years, NKF has set up 41 dialysis centres across the island, including this one in Bedok. 

These centres bring dialysis support into the communities, reducing wait times and cost for patients and their families.

With the expansion, this dialysis centre in Bedok now has a total of 25 dialysis stations. It can now serve up to 150 patients weekly, up from 114 earlier.

Importantly, this centre goes beyond just providing dialysis treatment to also offer a range of psychosocial support services to patients. 

And this leads me to the third prong – enabling patients to lead productive and meaningful lives.

While chronic diseases like kidney disease may be a setback, patients can still make active and useful contributions in their workplaces and in society.

Therefore, even as patients undergo treatment, we must also empower them to remain engaged in their careers, and with the wider community.

This will also help them build confidence for a better future, for themselves and for their families.

I commend NKF for holistically supporting kidney patients with their reintegration into society.

For example, NKF’s Home-Based Business programme, or HBB, provides skills to help patients establish and manage their own businesses. 

This helps patients develop financial independence and boosts their psychological well-being.

Later this morning, we will be recognising 8 individuals who have completed the 3-month HBB programme and have learnt how to pitch to investors, secure funding, and run their businesses.

One of them is Mdm Mariana Mahat.

Through the HBB and supported by NKF and the Singapore Malay Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mdm Mahat learnt to draw up a three-year plan for her roti boyan business and use social media to market and sell her products better.

Congrats to Mdm Mahat and all recipients – I look forward to meeting you and hearing about your experiences. 

This three-pronged approach of prevention, treatment and enablement can only be made possible with an ecosystem of like-minded partners coming together to pool resources and expertise.

The enhancement of this NKF centre is a good example of how we form community partnerships involving different stakeholders to benefit our residents here in East Coast, and in Singapore.

I thank San Wang Wu Ti Religious Society for your generous support for the centre’s expansion.

Let me also thank the community partners here today – including government agencies, the Agency for Integrated Care, SATA CommHealth, Good Life (Bedok), and Changi General Hospital – for your efforts in promoting health and well-being here in East Coast over the years.

Congratulations once again to NKF and partners on the opening of this new and upgraded dialysis centre.

I look forward to your continued support going forward as we build a healthier and more vibrant home here in East Coast. 

Thank you.