Ms Winnie Tang, President, Singapore National Stroke Association
Mr See Cher, President, The Society for the Physically Disabled
Ladies & Gentlemen
A very good morning to all.
Stroke is the fourth most common cause of death and the biggest cause of long term disability in Singapore. The Ministry of Health statistics for 2000 to 2002 shows that every year, about 10,000 people admitted to the hospital suffer from stroke. The report also indicates that stroke is also affecting younger people today. This is further emphasized in a Straits Times report on 11 January 1996 stating that 40% of stroke patients are aged 55 and below.
Young stroke survivors are usually sole breadwinners who have been previously active and employable. The physical and emotional issues confronting them are therefore more complex and challenging from that of the elderly whom we normally associate stroke with.
Today’s seminar seeks to address their challenges. It aims to increase public awareness of the challenges stroke survivors face and highlight services in the community that help them integrate back into the community. This seminar also provides a platform to develop working relationships between the acute healthcare and community-based service providers to assist stroke survivors in their total rehabilitation and improve their quality of life.
I have been told that more than 170 people comprising stroke survivors, caregivers and healthcare professionals from the hospitals, voluntary welfare organizations and public sectors are attending this seminar. I am sure you will be able to benefit much from the speakers who will talk about how best community resources can be used to help stroke survivors integrate again into the community. They are medical professionals, rehabilitation specialists and also stroke survivors and their sharing will allow you to know how to help stroke survivors and their caregivers as they overcome challenges involved in coping with stroke.
I would like to congratulate The Society for the Physically Disabled and the Singapore National Stroke Association for organizing today’s seminar and for being Voluntary Welfare Organisations that seek to remain relevant. Their progressive thinking has resulted in a team that works towards helping the community as a whole with the goal of engaging families in the management of stroke.
Following this same spirit, both associations will continue to be relevant and responsive VWOs that seek to serve the community of stroke survivors and their caregivers, and play an important role educating the public on the prevention of stroke. Their plan when implemented will contribute towards better health care for Singaporeans and an improved quality of life for both stroke survivors and their caregivers.
There’s room in the plan for the public to be active partners as volunteers, donors and supporters of the message both organizations represent, contributing towards stroke prevention and improving the quality of life for stroke survivors. Counseling by stroke survivors who will give practical tips on coping will be arranged for recent stroke survivors and their caregivers in order to give them hope. By their efforts, the SPD and SNSA will represent the support of the society for stroke survivors.
Stroke is no respecter of age, sex or race. It usually strikes when most unexpected, and those who survive are fortunate, those who are left unimpaired, more so. But for the many who are left with varying degrees of disability, a long and often tedious road awaits them. Integration back into the community and gaining normalcy and returning to the workforce can be a long process comprising physical and vocational rehabilitation, social and emotional counseling. However, with constant encouragement and support, and a great deal of love from family and friends, many stroke survivors do continue to have a full life.
The will and motivation of a stroke survivor are the keys to a meaningful recovery. They can turn weaknesses into strengths by assessing their own progress and challenging themselves to set realistic goals that help them toward more independence. By taking charge of their own destiny, they have the best chance of reaching their maximum potential. They can discover for themselves that life after stroke can, in spite of handicaps, be lived as fully as possible.
Supporting the professionals is the community of family, friends and volunteers who form an integral part in the recovery process. Only with their continuing work and support will the best achievements be gained. The SPD and SNSA are mindful that stroke survivors and their families get the best service and aftercare when those involved in the rehabilitation process adopt a collaborative and holistic approach in supporting each family, that those affected need ready access to good information that can guide them in the rehabilitation process. Both associations position themselves as partners in this network of support.
The government, through the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports will work in partnership with Voluntary Welfare Organisations to ensure that there are sufficient resources to meet the needs of the stroke survivors.
It can be a collaborative effort between the acute healthcare and community-based service providers to assist stroke survivors in their total rehabilitation and improve their quality of life. It can also be monetary support such as the sponsorship of the production of the resource handbook for stroke survivors and their families by MCYS.
In conclusion, I wish to congratulate the two associations in producing the booklet “LIFE AFTER STROKE CAN BE FULFILLING” in 4 languages. This will go a long way in public education about stroke.
We ask that you as a supporter of the two associations respond to this message of hope by becoming a part of this plan directly through your involvement as a volunteer or through continued support of the services and programmes of the Associations.
I wish you an enjoyable and fruitful discussion. Thank you.