​SINGAPORE – A $20 million fund has been established with the aim of reducing the financial hardship of cancer patients. 

Mrs Margaret Lien, 81, pledged the amount to establish the Lien Ying Chow Endowment Fund in memory of her late husband, philanthropist Lien Ying Chow, who set up the Lien Foundation.

The National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS) noted that while financial assistance is available for needy patients, this does not typically cover their needs beyond treatment.

The fund will provide support for necessities that will aid the recovery process and improve the overall quality of life for patients, said the centre, which will manage the fund.

For example, it will include funding home improvements patients may need due to their condition, as well as assistance to buy necessary mobility aids or other medical equipment.
“The hope is that the improvement in their quality of life will create a positive ripple effect, and build a society that cares about the well-being of others in the community,” said Mrs Lien.

The creation of the fund was announced by Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat on Sunday during NCCS’ charity gala dinner, held at The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore hotel.

Mr Heng also announced that the Goh Foundation, founded by paint tycoon Goh Cheng Liang in 1994 for philanthropy, has pledged $6.35 million to establish the Goh Foundation

Innovation in Supportive and Palliative Care Programme, which will benefit cancer patients as well as those with other medical issues.

The initiative will provide patients and their families with a comprehensive needs-based health coaching programme, as well as a grief and bereavement support programme.

Meanwhile, another $1 million was donated by New Century Foundation to NCCS to allow clinicians and scientists to use technology, including artificial intelligence, for the development of innovations in cancer care and research.

These efforts will go a long way in supporting NCCS patients and their families, said Mr Heng.

According to the Singapore Cancer Registry Annual Report 2021, there were more than 84,000 new cases of cancer diagnosed between 2017 and 2021, a number that is expected to increase in the coming years.

“With more Singaporeans being affected by cancer, strong philanthropic support helps to establish programmes that provide much-needed support for patients and their caregivers, and enables clinicians and scientists to pursue impactful cancer research that will improve health outcomes,” said NCCS chief executive William Hwang.

Institutions here must continue to invest in research, to be at the forefront of fighting cancer, said Mr Heng, who is also Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies. 

He added that NCCS had made substantial contributions to cancer research, noting that it was part of a collaborative effort to develop EBC-129, an antibody-drug combination which can selectively target cancer cells in solid tumours, while sparing normal cells.

The centre is also conducting research into cancer vaccines, with a recent Phase 1 clinical trial led by it and the Translational Immunology Institute, a joint research institute under 
SingHealth and Duke-NUS, showing promising results for patients with advanced cancer of the breast, lung and ovaries, he said. 

Such research efforts have the potential to transform cancer care and improve patient outcomes, said Mr Heng.