When Poh Tiong invited me to join you for tonight’s Charity Musical, I was more than happy to take it up. All of you at NKF, along with your supporters and volunteers, have been doing good work in supporting patients with kidney failure. It is a pleasure to celebrate with you tonight.

Poh Tiong has shared with me what you do at NKF. You do more than look out for patients’ dialysis needs. You also look at holistic help, through a spectrum of rehabilitation programmes such as counselling, home visits, job placement, befriending services, as well as nutrition, exercise, social and recreational needs as part and parcel of their all-rounded care. Indeed, it is this wrap-around support in addition to medical care that enables patients to stay optimistic, get back on their feet and rebuild their lives.

My congratulations to NKF as well, as you launch your Peritoneal Dialysis Community Support Programme. This is an innovative programme that lets patients to receive dialysis in the comfort of their homes. It makes a difference to each patient – they don’t have to work within the operating hours of the haemodialysis centres, and they can save on travel time. It gives them control over their schedules and of their lives. I encourage you to keep on innovating in such ways to care for and enable patients to lead full and active lives.

I understand that there are a number of kidney patients with us today. I was encouraged by your stories in “Beams of Hope”. The stories show us that, although you have gone through many struggles and hardships, you are not defined by your condition. You are defined by your spirit and perseverance. With quality treatment, holistic care, support from other people, and most of all, your own spirit, a kidney patient can lead a meaningful and rewarding life.

Nur Hakim Bin Solleh and his mother, Mdm Samirah, are among us here this evening. Hakim has had a rough journey. When he was just six months old, doctors discovered that he had urinary reflux, which means that there is an abnormal flow of urine back into the kidneys instead of out of the body. Hakim’s condition worsened and at 11 years old, his kidneys stopped functioning and he had to start dialysis. This added a strain to his family’s finances. Hakim’s mother, Mdm Samirah, was his full-time caregiver and it was difficult for her to get full-time work while juggling her caregiver role. Hakim’s father passed away three years ago. I’m very sorry to hear that. Samirah is now the sole breadwinner of the family. She was very relieved to get 100% subsidy from NKF for Hakim’s dialysis.

Now 18, Hakim is studying Security Technology at ITE and looks forward to graduating in two years’ time. Now, Hakim is on Peritoneal Dialysis, which means he can do dialysis at home at night – he does 10 hours every night. This way, he can attend classes during the day. Although the dialysis journey was not easy, Hakim remains cheerful and upbeat, and enjoys hanging out with his friends and plans to go for further studies after graduating from his current course.

Mdm Samirah, you are a strong and loving mother. And Hakim, you are a resilient young man, and I wish you all the best. Do your best in your studies and remember to show your mom lots of love and thanks for how well she has taken care of you. And, if you can, share your story with others, so that they can learn from your example how to overcome illness to be hopeful and active.

Hakim’s story is in the book. I am sure his and many other stories will encourage other kidney patients to live full and active lives despite the challenges of having kidney failure.

From the staff and volunteers at NKF, to family members and members of the community – many have donated, volunteered, served, given time, support, love and compassion. Read their stories and you will know just how much a difference you are making in their lives.

Many of you may be relieved to know that when MediShield Life is introduced at the end of this year, it will make a huge difference. Today, MediShield covers dialysis treatment, but those who are uninsured cannot benefit. Under MediShield Life, every Singaporean will be protected for life – this includes those who are currently uninsured, or those who have exclusions on their insurance plan because of pre-existing medical conditions. For uninsured dialysis patients, they can look forward to benefiting from MediShield Life coverage, of up to $1,200 every month, for their dialysis treatment and related drugs.

Let me conclude by thanking everyone for supporting the NKF. As we celebrate our nation’s golden jubilee this year, let us continue to uphold and practise the values and spirit of empathy and social responsibility.

Thank you.