In World War II, deaths from tuberculosis (TB) numbered in the thousands and hit its peak in 1944. During Singapore’s post-war pre-independence period, a comprehensive programme was launched to improve the public health consequences of the war, however, TB was not within the focus. Medical facilities dedicated to the disease were not available, and strapped resources meant that acute diseases were given the priority concern instead. This caused an uproar in the war-weary community, many of whom are familiar with the ravages of TB.
The Singapore Anti-Tuberculosis Association or SATA was inaugurated on 23 August 1947. To finance the clinic, a massive fund-raising effort was launched and supported by prominent businessmen during the time. Radiologist Dr. G H Garlick was appointed as the first Medical Director in charge of operations, and the first SATA clinic was opened on 29 November 1948 to serve the community.
Mobile X-Ray Unit On-Site Serving the Community
The Royal Singapore Tuberculosis Clinic located at Shenton waywas built in 1952 and by 1955, SATA started a mobile treatment service, known as Mobile Medical Services (MMS) today – to provide medical help to patients who were unable to visit the main clinic.
Throughout the years, racially diverse founders and philanthropists unhesitatingly came together and stepped up to help the community generously – solidifying SATA CommHealth’s commitment of ‘helping the vulnerable and seniors regardless of race’ approach.
Renowned philanthropist, Mr. G Uttamram, donated 6.5 hectares of land along New Upper Changi Road (where the SATA headquarters remain till date) to support the important work SATA was doing for the community. With these resources on hand, SATA was not only able to cater to those who suffer from TB, but also explored other areas which are relevant to their needs. Additional land was also donated by prominent philanthropist, Dato Lee Kong Chian; 10 semi-detached cottages with chicken coops and vegetable farms were created at then South Winds Resorts to house convalescents and chronic cases.
As part of their expanded offerings, a cardiology department was set up to cater to those who were suffering from heart diseases and the Royal Singapore Tuberculosis Clinic was then renamed SATA Heart and Chest Clinic,to stay relevant. In line with this move, SATA was also campaigning to raise awareness on the link between smoking, heart diseases and cancer. The organisation actively participated in anti-smoking campaigns, lobbying for the reduction of tar in cigarettes and the incorporation of health warnings on cigarette packs.
For more information, please refer to Appendix A: SATA CommHealth Milestones.
SATA CommHealth: For the Community, By the Community
Over the years, what started as an answer to a pressing community health need progressively evolved to address various related aspects pertaining to community healthcare. In April 2009, as part of its continued efforts to stay relevant in providing for the needs of Singaporeans and promote lifelong health and wellness in the community, SATA was officially renamed to SATA CommHealth.
Besides their contribution of Doctors-On-Wheels, Homecare, mobile X-ray along with mainstay services of SATA CommHealth that are highly requested, this charitable health organisation pushes the envelope to elevate their services towards the community. On top of services ranging from health screening, Advance Care Planning (ACP), Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA), tele-consultations, SATA CommHealth most recently supported the nation’s efforts against the pandemic with vaccinations for COVID-19. They served the people extensively during the trying times by mobilising their mobile medical and diagnostic imaging team and deploying medical professionals to provide care for people of all races in the community.
As the SATA CommHealth we know today unremittingly continues forward with their mission, next year will mark the 75th Anniversary, on the 23rd August 2022, of their growth and success in community efforts to care for the seniors and vulnerable throughout the years. Its accomplishments were made possible only due to the guidance of passionate leaders who aspire to create a holistic experience in healthcare within the community.
Effective Leadership: Engage, Enable, Encourage
SATA CommHealth’s growth and expansion towards better serving the community would not have been realised without the illustrious line of chairmen who not only understood its mission, but also possessed the passion to serve the community. Through their leadership, SATA CommHealth maintained their core values, and was able to forge ahead towards their goal of promoting lifelong health and serving the community in various related aspects.
Mr Stanley Sia, the current Chairman of SATA CommHealth, first joined the organisation as a member of the Investment and Finance Committee. As Managing Director, co-head of Standard Chartered Bank’s digital channels and data analytics for the Asia region, the contrast in work landscape was one of the early highlights of his tenure. “I was very enlightened and heartened to see our team members’ dedication to serving the community. It was an unexpected yet fulfilling experience for me, and their patience and genuine care in attending to the elderly was infectious. There was always time to care, to show concern, and to understand our patients. It was because of the existing core values that has become a culture within our organisation, and this steadfast devotion of the SATA CommHealth team in helping the community, I was motivated to push forward with initiatives which can improve our processes and widen our reach.” Motivated by the steadfast devotion of the SATA CommHealth team coupled with the reality of an ageing population, Mr Sia’s beneficence was quickly kindled with the possibility of doing more for the community.
The heightened alert during the pandemic was Mr Sia’s first challenge as Chairman. He made crucial decisions and deployed frontline teams to high-risk locations to offer medical assistance to people of all races. This specialised team of frontline workers and professionals, having dealt with health risks and viruses in the community, namely Tuberculosis, SARS, H1N1 previously, and with the COVID-19 crisis, was able to leverage on their experience to effectively manage the crisis. “Throughout the years, SATA CommHealth has weathered many storms which offered us invaluable wisdom. We must never ‘let a crisis go to waste’, as from these hard times SATA CommHealth will rise above and emerge stronger – always prepared for challenges in the future.”, commented Mr Sia. Some of Mr Sia’s plans are contributed in INTHEBLACK magazine.
During his chair, Mr Sia saw numerous advancements and recognition for the good work SATA CommHealth was doing. Their self-titled mobile app, SATA, was launched to bring convenience to the community. This digital healthcare service allows patients to have a video consultation with SATA CommHealth’s doctors and nurses through the SATA app. Mr Sia has led the management team to execute a 3-5-7- Strategy* plan which consists of 3 objectives, 5 aspirations and 7 goals for SATA CommHealth in the years to come.
SATA CommHealth was also nominated for their contributions towards the finest hour in the City of Good during the COVID-19 pandemic from President Halimah Yacob, as well as awarded the Singapore Health Quality Service Awards (Heroes Award) and Nurses’ Merit Award by the Ministry of Health.
For more information about Mr Stanley Sia, please refer to Appendix B: Chairman’s Profile.
*3-5-7 Strategy in Appendix C
Chairman Appreciation Award
These Awards were given to recognise and honour all SATA CommHealth’s past Chairmen for their immense contributions. Celebrated chairmen who received this award include Theresa Goh (2017-2020), Ang Hao Yao (2013-2017), Mak Yuen Teen (2008-2013), Martin Tsang (2005-2008) and Richard Eu Keng Mun (1961-1966). Through their tireless efforts and passion towards providing more to the elderly and the vulnerable of the community, SATA CommHealth has flourished, winning numerous accolades: 2011 Singapore Prestige Brand Award (Heritage Award), Singapore Prestige Brand (Special Merit Award) in 2012, President’s Challenge Social Enterprise of the Year Award 2013 and more.
Information about their decorative history and notable past chairman are available in Appendix D.
Thanks to the leadership of award recipients, SATA CommHealth was able to grow and move toward its vision of providing more rewarding healthcare and wellness for the community.
To read more about the Story of SATA CommHealth click here.
Hi-Res Visuals are available here.