THE PASSION OF ONE

The idea of forming an organisation to reach out to and help diabetes patients began stirring in the mind of Dr Frederick Tan Bock Yam more than 40 years ago.

His interest in diabetes developed when he had to treat diabetic patients at The Singapore General Hospital, where he was attached to after graduation. In those days, patients had poor knowledge of their condition or how to treat their diabetes.

Dr Tan’s postgraduate studies in the United Kingdom led him to the work with two eminent endocrinologists - the late Professor Sir Derrick Dunlop the Royal Infirmary, Edinburgh, Scotland and the late Professor Sir Russell Fraser at the Hammersmith Postgraduate School of Medicine, London, England. It was during this time that he learned about the programmes of the British Diabetic Association, which further sparked his interest in diabetes.

He was also inspired by his great-grandfather, the late philantrhopist Tan Tock Seng, founder of Tan Tock Seng Hospital, to do something for the sick. After several years of planning, the non-profit organisation was finally registered as the Diabetic Society of Singapore (DSS) on 25 September 1971.



OUTREACH TO MANY

The earliest educational meetings and self-care courses were held at the conference room of Alexandra Hospital until 1974. Other venues were the Lee Kong Chian Hall of The Singapore Council of Social Service in Penang Lane, function rooms in various hotels and Mount Alvernia Hospital. The Society was temporarily housed in a room rented from The Singapore Council of Social Service from February 1976 until 1993. In 1993, DSS moved to its present headquarters at Ang Mo Kio Community Hospital.

On February 22, 1998, a satellite centre, the DSS Sembawang-Hong Kah Diabetes Education and Care Centre, was officially opened by then Deputy Prime Minister, Dr Tony Tan, at the Hong Kah West Community Club. This centre has helped facilitate access to services for the residents in Jurong, such as counselling, health education, checks on blood sugar and cholesterol.

In September 2006, a spanking new centre – more aptly named South-West Diabetes and Education Care Centre - was unveiled after the addition of a new resource and activity area to accommodate more information materials, workshops and programmes.

In 2002, a second centre was set up in another strategic location. Dr Lee Boon Yang officially opened the Central Singapore Diabetes Education & Care Centre at Boon Keng Road.


STRENGTH TO STRENGTH

In 1977, DSS acquired full membership in the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), Western Pacific Region. The Society was able to send representatives to meetings held every three years in different cities since 1976. In 1999, DSS was elected the secretariat of the IDF-Western Pacific Region. In line with the IDF, the Society has observed World Diabetes Day annually since 1991 with talks, lectures and exhibitions for members as well as the public.

Education has always been the key objective of the society. Its quarterly publication, DMLife, was recently revamped in October 2006 to usher in Diabetes Singapore – so called to reflect its growing role as the voice of diabetes in Singapore. The publication continues to be distributed free to all members and will focus on lifestyle changes, diabetes self-care skills and topical news on diabetes.

The Society organises public forums six to seven times a year at hotels. They are conducted by leading local specialists and visiting experts and have been well-attended and well-received by the public. Such forums – which are conducted in English, Mandarin, Malay or Tamil - have successfully reached out to people of all races and all walks of life.

DSS Milestones

11 Jun 1971 Inaugural Meeting of DSS.
25 Sep 1971 DSS registered as a non-profit organisation.
1974 Membership: The Singapore Council of Social Service.
1 Jan 1977 Membership: International Diabetes Federation (IDF).
1983 Membership: Community Chest of Singapore.
1991 DSS celebrates World Diabetes Day for the first time.
1992 21st Anniversary celebration, attended by distinguished guests worldwide.
17 Dec 1993 DSS HQ opens at the Ang Mo Kio Community Hospital.
Jun 1994 DSS Founder Dr Tan Bock Yam steps down as head of DSS after 22 years of service.
1995 DSS holds its first children’s camp.
22 Feb 1998 Deputy Prime Minister, Dr Tony Tan, opens the DSS Sembawang-Hong Kah Diabetes Education and Care Centre.
1999 DSS is elected secretariat of the International Diabetes Foundation-Western Pacific Region.
2002 Dr Lee Boon Yang opens Central Diabetes Education and Care Centre opens at Boon Keng Road.
2003 DSS formally recognises 23 diabetes nurse educators.
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