How SATA Began
Tuberculosis (TB) was a major community health menace in post-war Singapore, afflicting and threatening many. Medical facilities to combat TB were conspicuously lacking and those that existed were inadequate to contain the disease from spreading. Community health and medical care had to compete with other postwar reconstruction and restoration programs for funds. It was under such a bleak environment that the Singapore Anti-Tuberculosis Association or SATA was set up. SATA was registered on 23rd August 1947. Its first job was to set up X-ray facilities—a useful and quick way to diagnose TB in the community. This required money and the Association planned and launched its first fund-raising campaign.
Dr G H Garlick, a radiologist, was appointed in September 1948 as its first Medical Director to oversee its operations and the clinic was officially opened on 29th November 1948. SATA concentrated on providing outpatient diagnostic and treatment services. Many prominent businessmen donated money and even land. In 1952, the Royal Singapore Tuberculosis Clinic, which cost $1 million at that time, was built in Shenton Way. Over the years, SATA embarked on various projects to cater to those suffering from TB. The Rehabilitation Centre which sought to train cured patients to make them employable was one such project. At about the same time, Mr G Uttamram, a noted philanthropist, donated 61⁄2 acres of land along Upper Changi Road, where the present headquarters of SATA is located. By 1955, SATA started a mobile treatment service, to treat those who were unable to afford a trip to SATA’s clinic in town. A van was used for this purpose, and it soon became a familiar sight in Singapore in the 1950s and 1960s.
To stay relevant, SATA responded by starting a section on cardiology to investigate and treat heart diseases on an outpatient basis. It renamed its Shenton Way Clinic to SATA Heart and Chest Clinic to reflect its expanded role. By the late 1970s, SATA was active in anti-smoking campaigns where it joined others in calling for a reduction of tar in cigarettes and the incorporation of health warnings on cigarette packs. The public was educated on the link between smoking, heart diseases and cancer.
In its continuing efforts to remain relevant to the needs of Singaporeans, SATA underwent a rebranding exercise—Officially renaming itself to SATA CommHealth in April 2009, to better reflect its focus and on-going efforts to promote lifelong health in the community.
Founding Members of Singapore Anti-Tuberculosis Association
Past Medical Directors
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