Launch of the Educate, Test, Treat! and End-C Programmes - Opening Address by Assoc Prof Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, Minister of State, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of National Development

Published: 27 July 2022

Ms Dominique Choy, President HCSA Board of Directors;

Mr Yeo Jih-Shian, Chair Highpoint Management Committee, and Vice President HCSA Board of Directors;

Mrs. Kim Lang Khalil, Chief Executive Officer HCSA;

Mr Terrence Goh, Deputy Commissioner, Singapore Prison Service;

Professor Yang Wei Lyn, Senior Consultant, Tan Tock Seng Hospital;

Ms Jean Lee, Director - Singapore, Gilead Sciences;

Ms Agnes Lau, Director Public Affairs, Gilead Sciences;

Ladies & Gentlemen

1.   A very good morning to all of you. Lovely to see the video, the sharing, and also the speech given earlier. Before I begin, I want to thank all of you for making this very important effort. We are very fortunate to have all the medical practitioners, all of you here, the partners, who have been working very hard, helping to bring hope, and better lives.

2.   I am very happy to be able to join you here today to officially launch the Educate, Test, Treat! (ETT) and End-C Programmes.

3.   The ETT and End-C Programmes form the first local initiative which aims to eliminate the Hepatitis-C virus (HCV) from residents and alumni from the various halfway houses in Singapore, through education, testing, and treatment.

4.   These programmes are also a testament to how different organisations are coming together to support our inmates and our ex-offenders in their reintegration journey. The best part of it is how we are coming together, and it is through a common goal of helping them, and that, to me, is a strength.

5.   I would like to thank HCSA Community Services for developing this initiative and I would like to also give thanks to Gilead Sciences for lending its generous support, as well as Tan Tock Seng Hospital’s Department of Gastroenterology & Hepatology for collaborating with HCSA to establish this unique initiative.

6.   This initiative would not have been made possible without your strong support. Coming together is about looking through a common lens, on why we are doing this.

7.   Beyond treating the halfway houses’ residents who have contracted the HCV, the ETT and End-C programmes aim to educate the residents on the risks and dangers of HCV, and to also correct the misconception that HCV is a virus that cannot be treated or that is not life-threatening.

8.   Under the ETT programme, participants will be tested for the virus at HCSA. If tested positive, participants can be referred to Tan Tock Seng Hospital to receive subsidised treatment under the End-C programme, while also receiving social support from HCSA’s network of befrienders – aptly called the FriEnd-C Network – to encourage and accompany participants as they complete their treatment. 

9.   So, as shared earlier, it is a journey where we need to give hope to our friends – that they can get better, and that they will get better. And it is a journey shared by all our stakeholders, to care for them.

10.   Ultimately, the goal of the initiative is to provide participants from the various halfway houses, with handy information on HCV, accessible and affordable means to be tested and treated for HCV, as well as social support from the community to keep them going on their recovery journey. This will give them an opportunity to achieve better quality of life, which would subsequently aid them in their reintegration journey.

11.   I am glad that many halfway houses, such as Pertapis Halfway House, Selarang Halfway House, The Helping Hand, Teen Challenge Singapore, and The New Charis Mission – just to name a few – are participating in this initiative.  

12.   I sincerely would like to thank all of you. Even though you look at it from a medical angle, this is also part of the rehabilitation and reintegration journey of our ex-offenders. And it also shows how much we care for them, and how much we want life to be better for them. And having met many of you along this journey, I am very inspired. In fact, before coming to this event, and while I was going through what we are doing today, I linked it to my journey so far in this area of work and how we are all coming together, strengthening our efforts and network, day after day, month after month, and year after year; all in a bid to help our inmates, our ex-offenders, as well as their families, because we want them to have better lives ahead.

13.   Whenever I meet our ex-offenders, I will always remind them that there are many people out there caring for them, wanting the best for them. And I think this is an initiative that will not only physically help them to live better lives, from a medical perspective, but if we look beyond it, and look at the scope and purpose of why we are doing this – it is because we care, and want to ensure they are able to journey through this rehabilitation and reintegration journey.

14.   So, I sincerely, once again, would like to thank HCSA Community Services, Gilead Sciences and Tan Tock Seng Hospital for making this happen. I am deeply humbled and honoured to be able to join you in this journey, although I play a very small part. And I look forward to continuing this journey with you, so that we can not only give hope, but provide opportunity for them to dare to dream, and most importantly give them and their families better lives in the years ahead.

15.   Thank you.