Goh-Fung Cynthia Ruth, more commonly known as Professor Goh, was a woman who defied convention and paved the way for compassionate care for the terminally ill in Singapore; a true visionary who changed the face of healthcare in Singapore. Born into a family of doctors in Hong Kong, she attended medical school in London and eventually settled in Singapore with her husband and two children.
Her journey started in 1986, as a volunteer at St. Joseph's Home, where she was struck by the suffering of dying patients. She knew then that something needed to be done to alleviate their pain and improve their quality of life.
Despite being told in the 1980s that there was no need for palliative care services in Singapore, Professor Goh was undeterred. Her unwavering commitment to the cause led her to establish palliative care services at Singapore General Hospital and the National Cancer Center Singapore in 1999. She went on to become the Founding President of HCA Hospice Care - Singapore's largest hospice care provider.
Professor Goh was a true trailblazer, and her contributions to palliative care were recognized with induction into the Singapore Women's Hall of Fame. She held a number of professional appointments and committee memberships, including the Founding President of the Association of Southeast Asian Pain Societies(ASEAPS), a member of the International Association for the Study of Pain(IASP), co-head of the World Hospice Palliative Care Alliance(WHPCA), and Chair of the Asia Pacific Hospice Palliative Care Network(APHN).
For Professor Goh, it was not just about providing care for the dying, but about enabling universal access to quality palliative care. She believed that capacity building through quality palliative training was essential to achieving this goal. Her efforts culminated in palliative medicine being recognized as a medical subspecialty in Singapore in 2006, in line with the UK and Australia.
Professor Goh's legacy lives on, even after her passing on February 13th, 2022, at the age of 72, from pancreatic cancer. Her husband, Dr. Goh Hak-Su, spoke of how she received the best palliative care from her friends and colleagues in the comfort of her own home. It was a fitting end for a woman who had devoted her life to helping the dying live their final days with as much comfort and dignity as possible.
Professor Goh was a visionary who saw a need and worked tirelessly to make a difference. Her contributions to palliative care in Singapore will be remembered for generations to come, and her legacy will inspire others to follow in her footsteps.
We hope to celebrate her achievements and continue her work.
Help APHN continue Professor Goh's regional work
Donate via Credit/Debit Card or PayPal or Alipay
Donate via Cheque Payee:
Asia Pacific Hospice Palliative Care Network
c/o Division of Supportive & Palliative Care
National Cancer Centre Singapore
11 Hospital Crescent
‘Dr Goh’s family has decided to continue her legacy by establishing the Cynthia Goh Palliative Care Institute (CGPCI). The Institute aims to leverage on the existing expertise of the partner organisations to develop joint programmes and appointments to develop its activities whilst advancing education and research capacity and capability in the region. The partners include the APHN, the Lien Centre for Palliative Care and the SingHealth Duke-NUS Global Health Institute.
The CGPCI will serve as a catalyst from which programmes can be developed to improve access to palliative care for individuals with serious advanced illnesses and their families. These programmes will focus on multi-region research and interdisciplinary education to enhance palliative care practice and standards in Singapore and the Asia Pacific region. The Institute seeks for an endowed donation of S$10 million (with matching to S$20 million), and an expendable donation of S$2 million (with a matching to S$2 million) to fund the expenses.
We invite you to support this initiative by funding a percentage of the S$12 million required for its establishment. Your support will allow the institute to continue Cynthia’s efforts in advancing palliative care practice and access, especially in low to middle-income regions.
For more information, please read the full article at https://aphn.org/funding-to-establish-cynthia-goh-global-palliative-care-institute/.
Remembering the pioneer of palliative care
Professor Cynthia Goh
1949 - 2022