DPM Tharman Shanmugaratnam at the opening of Blk 940 Jurong West NKF Dialysis Centre

SM Tharman Shanmugaratnam | 29 March 2016

Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for Economic and Social Policies Tharman Shanmugaratnam at the opening of Blk 940 Jurong West NKF Dialysis Centre on 29 March 2016.


Good morning to everyone who is here to support the NKF’s good work. I am very happy to be with all of you for the opening of this new NKF Dialysis Centre, supported by The Sirivadhanabhakdi Foundation.

The NKF is the largest Voluntary Welfare Organisation (VWO) providing dialysis services in Singapore. Today, with strong community support and 30 dialysis centres islandwide, it provides quality treatment and care to more than 3,800 needy kidney patients.

The NKF is also a good example of the spirit of partnership that enhances the quality and scale of social services in Singapore. It involves partnerships between the Government, NKF as a Voluntary Welfare Organisation (VWO) with both professionals and volunteers behind it, and charitable donors comprising the private sector, philanthropic foundations and countless individuals. Each partner plays a valuable role, and together we weave a much stronger tapestry of social support for those in need.

The Intermediate and Long-term Care (ILTC) sector will grow in importance in the coming years. And the NKF is a prime example of a VWO in this critical sector - critical to both our overall healthcare system and the provision of social support for Singaporeans in need. That’s also why the Government is committed to supporting VWOs like the NKF -  both  through direct MOH grants to ensure affordable services, and importantly too by drawing on the Government’s Community Silver Trust to provide dollar-for-dollar matching grants for charitable donations received by the VWOs in the sector.  Indeed, to NKF’s credit, it has become the largest beneficiary of the Community Silver Trust1

It is a somewhat unique approach, this partnership of Government and donors, small and large, that brings maximum benefit to NKF and helps it to grow its good work in serving kidney patients and promoting education, early detection and prevention of kidney disease. The Government and donors leverage on each other.  The donors know that the Government will match their contributions, and are often incentivised to contribute more.

It is heartening to see how individuals, the private sector and philanthropic foundations giving to the society. For example, the Singapore Contractors Association committed $900,000 last year for a new dialysis centre in Yishun. Today, The Sirivadhanabhakdi Foundation is sponsoring the set-up of the dialysis centre here at Blk 940 Jurong West with a generous donation of $2.2 million dollars. And within the Jurong family itself, Yuhua Citizens’ Consultative Committee (CCC) and its residents have raised $1.2 million for another dialysis centre in Jurong East to be ready by 2019.

The Government will also continue to work with the public healthcare institutions, VWOs such as NKF, and other community partners, to ensure that healthcare is accessible and affordable to all.  For example, NKF patients who have the PG or CHAS cards can also receive government subsidies at CHAS clinics in the community, for the treatment of illnesses including chronic kidney disease.

MediShield Life also enhances support for dialysis patients. Many were not able to obtain insurance coverage previously due to their pre-existing medical conditions. With MediShield Life, they are now covered, and can claim up to $1,200 per month for their dialysis treatments and related drugs.  I understand from NKF that almost 900 of their patients have benefited from the extension of MediShield Life coverage to them.

About the centre we are opening today: it is the first in Singapore to introduce nocturnal dialysis. (Nocturnal dialysis allows patients to dialyse overnight at the dialysis centre for seven to eight hours from 10pm to 6am.)  Besides the convenience and minimal disruption of patients’ lifestyle, nocturnal dialysis is also a slower and gentler treatment with better clearance of toxins, allowing patients to have a better quality of life. Patients can also be less dependent on drugs to control their blood pressure, phosphate and haemoglobin levels.

Today’s NKF must however go beyond offering haemodialysis services, to strengthen education and prevention programmes to curb the onset of kidney diseases.  I  am therefore very pleased  that NKF will  open an integrated renal care centre, the first of its kind, at 500 Corporation Road in Jurong:

  1. It will be the largest dialysis centre in Singapore, with 200 stations.
  2. It will also be a one-stop renal care centre:  offering haemodialysis services, peritoneal dialysis support and training services, and a range of other complementary services such as kidney-related outpatient procedures and community education and outreach activities. 
  3. This new centre will hence greatly expand access to subsidised haemodialysis services to the renal patients in the Western region, but is also in line with the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) efforts to promote uptake of Peritoneal Dialysis, or in short, PD, among local patients. PD is able to offer patients the convenience and flexibility of home treatment, and help PD patients to stay employed if they wish to.
  4. The new, integrated centre will also strengthen NKF’s efforts in prevention, through community education and outreach.

We must redouble our efforts on preventive care. One in nine adult Singaporeans2 has diabetes and the number is growing. And one third of them are not aware of their condition and hence do not receive the necessary treatment till late in the day. NKF’s work will complement MOH’s efforts to promote upstream preventive care, starting from habits formed when young. The Minister of Health will be sharing more on this at the upcoming Committee of Supply debate.

Once again, I would like to congratulate NKF for the opening of the NKF Dialysis Centre, and the partnerships it has built up with both Government and donors to grow its work. I wish you all the best as you continue this journey of caring for kidney patients and preventing kidney disease in Singapore.

[1] NKF has also received almost $40 million in matching grants from the Community Silver Trust since 2012, besides direct annual funding from MOH. 

[2] Refers to Singapore residents aged 18-69 years old