Delegates from 14 countries with Archbishop Nicholas Chia and Minister George Yeo. Photo by Erick Lirios


Minister for Foreign Affairs George Yeo acknowledged the difficulty of the nursing profession, and its importance by relating two instances of how nurses helped his family

SINGAPORE – Singapore Minister for Foreign Affairs George Yeo, a Catholic, narrated how nurses were instrumental in bringing about care and healing to his family when he addressed more than 300 nurses from 14 countries during the opening ceremony of the 10th Regional Conference of Ciciams (Comité International Catholique des Infirmières et Assistantes Médico-Sociales or The International Catholic Committee of Nurses and Medico-Social Assistants).

This healing is not only of the physical body, he explained, but is of the human totality and includes the entire family.

The minister recounted how a nurse cared for his late father and nursed him back to health though a doctor had already recommended the amputation of his father’s foot.

In another testimony, he narrated how years ago, his son, diagnosed with Leukemia, was treated at the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. His son received the utmost care and was never treated as just a patient, the minister said. He was treated as a human being – someone with a family and with his unique pain, fear, insecurity and other feelings.

“All of us need people who care for us”, he said. “All of us need to be consoled, to be understood, to be loved especially when we’re sick. When we are not in receipt of consolation, understanding and love, our ability to recover is greatly weakened and that is why nursing is such an important vocation.”

Mr Yeo also said that difficult medical decisions, especially those that involve important moral issues, can only truly be made if the person involved in the treatment has her heart in the right place, if the motives are right and if human beings are seen not as a statistic but “as having a divine and spiritual nature”.

He acknowledged that nursing is difficult work and emphasised the importance of praying. Prayer gives strength and sustenance through all the difficulties encountered, he said.

Also addressing the delegates, Ciciams president Marylee Meehan stressed the need for Catholic nurses around the world to stand together as a “triple-braided cord” so that, “Individually and collectively, we become the new David in the Goliath world of healthcare.”

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