Remarks By Mr Reginald Wee, SIF Division Director, Programmes, At The Closing Of The Enhancing Palliative Care Practice Project, In Jakarta, Indonesia

Dr Koesmedi Priharto, Head of the Jakarta Health Agency,
Dr Carmen Jahja, Vice-Chairman of the Jakarta Cancer Foundation,
Ibu Kartika Kurniasari, Chief Executive Officer of Rachel House,
Singapore International Volunteers,

Selamat Sore! Thank you for joining us at the closing of the Enhancing Palliative Care Practice Project, a two-and-a-half-year collaborative effort by Singaporean and Indonesian communities to build the capacities of healthcare professionals working in the end of life care sector.

Like many countries globally, both Singapore and Indonesia are facing challenges associated with the proliferation of chronic life-threatening illnesses and a growing elderly population. Hence there is a growing need for end of life care. Better trained palliative care physicians remain critical in efforts to improve any community’s access to such healthcare services, so that we can achieve a range of better outcomes for patients and their families. With this goal in mind, the Singapore International Foundation, or SIF, and our partners – the Jakarta Cancer Foundation and Rachel House – embarked on the Enhancing Palliative Care Practice project.

Since 2015, a team of Singapore International Volunteers or SIVs led by Dr Ramaswamy Akhileswaran and his multi-disciplinary team of doctors, nurses and a medical social worker, helped train a core group of 44 Master Trainers from Jakarta Cancer Foundation, Rachel House and 13 public hospitals in Jakarta with enhanced palliative capabilities and competencies. This group was equipped with the medical and nursing knowledge and skills to better assess, treat and manage palliative care patients, and communicate more effectively with patients and caregivers.

Over two and a half years, we worked together to enable further sharing of such professional knowledge and experiences with the larger Indonesian healthcare communities. In a recent “Palliative Care - Improving Quality of Life for Patients and their Families” symposium, 86 attendees made up of provincial policy makers, public and private health institutions in Jakarta, and non-profit organisations gained a better understanding on the practice of palliative care through dialogue with the Indonesian Master Trainers.

In addition to such exchanges, our collaboration also supported the continued development of the palliative care sector in Indonesia. We had two successful Leadership Roundtables that brought the SIV team, and medical leaders and policy makers from the Indonesian Ministry of Health, the Jakarta Health Agency, the National Nursing Association, the World Health Organisation, and the public hospitals, together in meaningful dialogue and exchanges. The roundtables discussed issues surrounding availability of necessary medication and effective patient management and referral systems. We are heartened to learn that palliative care training sessions are now made available by the Ministry of Health and the National Cancer Control Committee.

For over 25 years, Singaporeans and Indonesians have come together through the SIF’s programmes to share ideas, skills and resources in a variety of areas such as health, education, arts and governance. The successful completion of the Enhancing Palliative Care Practice project today truly exemplifies the meaningful impact that can happen when communities with mutual interests connect and collaborate to effect positive change in a sustainable manner. The commitment by both communities to work together to improve lives is testament to the spirit of ‘’gotong royong’’ between our peoples.

This year also marks the 50th anniversary of Singapore-Indonesia relations. Our friendship is one characterised by enduring relations at many levels, including cooperation initiatives such as this. This collaboration would not have been possible without the strong support of our Indonesian partners, friends and SIVs. I would like to first express my thanks to the Jakarta Cancer Foundation and Rachel House for working tirelessly with us to bring enhanced palliative care to those in need in Jakarta. We are also grateful to other Indonesian supporters of this project – the 13 public hospitals in Jakarta, the Indonesian Ministry of Health, the Jakarta Health Agency, the National Nursing Association and the World Health Organisation for your willingness to engage with us.

On this note, my heartfelt appreciation goes to the multidisciplinary team of SIVs made up of doctors, nurses and a medical social worker from Singapore. Thank you for generously contributing your time and expertise to this project. I wish you all a wonderful afternoon ahead reconnecting with friends! 



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