Supporters came dressed as their favourite cartoon characters and superheroes for a night of fun and serious fundraising at the Kidz Horizon Appeal Gala Dinner 2018. More than $835,000 were raised for the KKH Health Fund which supports sick children who are in need of financial assistance to cover their medical bills. The popular annual fundraiser is now in its 14th year and the passion of the organisers continues to burn brightly.
Dr Caroline Low-Heah, founding Chairperson of Kidz Horizon Appeal (KHA) shares why she started the fundraiser and what keeps her going.
1) Why did you decide to setup KHA to raise funds for the KKH Health Fund?Back in 2004, when I co-founded the KHA together with my friend, Douglas Benjamin, our main goal was to help children with HIV, also known as human immunodeficiency virus. HIV is different from AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome), not everyone who has HIV will develop AIDS. Children who are HIV-positive can lead normal lives and go to school like everyone else. However, HIV weakens a person’s immune system, and children who are HIV-positive are particularly vulnerable due to their still-developing immune systems. Douglas and I felt that these children needed support for a better future, and we hoped that mindset would change if people understood the disease better. At that time, HIV medication was not subsidised in Singapore and cost for treatment was very prohibitive. The funds we raised helped cover the cost of HIV medication for children and pregnant women who were HIV positive. An HIV-positive mother has a 25 per cent chance of passing on HIV to her baby, but this drops to less than 2 per cent if she takes the medication, has a caesarean section delivery and avoids breastfeeding. We worked with the Ministry of Health, and default HIV testing for pregnant women was implemented in 2004 so that women who were initially unaware they were HIV positive could receive treatment and education to minimise the chance of HIV transmission to their babies. With these moves, the number of babies born HIV-positive has plummeted over the years. 2) It has been 14 years since KHA was established, what keeps you motivated?It is my hope that through the support of the KHA and the KKHHF, there will be fewer and fewer women and children in need of our help, as we continue to do what we can to rid diseases from the get-go, making the world a place with less disease and suffering. 3) Could you share with us a memorable moment where you’ve witnessed the impact your support has made to the lives of patients?Helping to stop the transmission of HIV from mothers to their babies and knowing the impact this has had on the lives of these children has been particularly meaningful. Since the implementation of default HIV testing for all pregnant women, those who are found to be HIV positive have been able to receive the right care and medication. The number of babies born with HIV has plummeted over the years and now it is extremely rare for a baby to be diagnosed HIV positive in Singapore. 4) What is your hope/ belief for the KHA?My belief of how a charity should work is to pick a preventable condition and educate people about it. As more awareness is created and more help comes in, the problem gets smaller, resulting in funds being redirected to meet the next need. With the paediatric HIV problem now better managed in our community, Kidz Horizon Appeal is helping patients with other chronic diseases through the KKH Health Fund. This has included supporting KKH’s Child Life Therapy Programme to make the hospital experience less stressful for sick children and helping with medical bills for low income children battling life-threatening illnesses such as cancer.
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