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Record number of healthcare workers honoured

A record number of 76 healthcare workers received the Healthcare Humanity Award this year.

SINGAPORE: A record number of 76 healthcare workers received the Healthcare Humanity Award this year.

They are from 26 public hospitals, polyclinics, nursing homes and related organisations.

The award was first established in 2004 to recognise the efforts of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome healthcare workers.

Recipients will each take home a silver medallion and a cash prize of S$1,500. Since then, about S$1 million has been given out to 593 healthcare workers.

Among the recipients on Wednesday was Nurse Clinician Sun Tao from Tan Tock Seng Hospital.

She was commended for going the extra mile to improve the care of ventilator-dependent and ventilator-assisted patients at home.

Sun Tao is from the Home Ventilation Respiratory Support Service. After office hours, she also makes the effort to call the caregivers to check on her patients' well-being whenever necessary, and uses her own time to continue to support caregivers after the patients have passed on.

Another recipient was Associate Professor Steven Thng, who set up a laboratory at the National Skin Centre (NSC) to carry out research for better treatment of vitiligo, a skin disorder where the pigment cells are weakened or destroyed.

To generate enough skin samples in the lab's early days of vitiligo research, he volunteered his own cells for testing and still bears the scars on his forearms.

Assoc Prof Thng, who is also a senior consultant dermatologist said: "In pigment research, the most important step is to learn how to extract out the colour cells and to grow them. At that point of time, it was a very difficult process and nobody was willing to donate skin, so I had no choice but to experiment with my own skin."

Today, the NSC's pigment clinic provides the most comprehensive options in the region for patients with vitiligo.

Assoc Prof Thng said: "I know that if we don't start this first step, and we do not extract and culture the cells, then there'll be no hope for the research that we want to do. And there'll be no hope for vitiligo patients that we're trying to serve and trying to find a cure for.

“So with that in mind, the next step is natural -- you just need to overcome the fear, remove a piece of skin, and work from there."

The awards celebrated its 10th anniversary this year. A new category, the Honourable Mention Award, was started this year.

President Tony Tan Keng Yam was the Guest of Honour at the awards presentation ceremony on Wednesday.

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