The KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH) at Little India is one of the oldest in Singapore, founded as it was in 1858. It was established 27 years after the Singapore General Hospital, which is the oldest in the country. Singaporeans usually refer to it by its older moniker, the Kandang Kerbau or KK Hospital. Some of us may already know that the name “Kandang Kerbau” means “buffalo shed” in Malay, and it is true that the area once housed the animals. Did you know that the buffaloes in question belonged to the Department of Transport? But wait, there’s more interesting morsels of information regarding this public institution cherished by the Singaporean population.

1. The KKH is the largest general hospital in Singapore.

Yes, that’s right. The hospital is sprawling, with multi-storeyed structures that some might mistake for a gigantic cruise liner from afar. It covers 4.8 hectares, and houses 830 beds, more than 600 specialists and even more clinical staff and personnel.

2. The KKH holds a Guinness record.

It was handed the certificate by the world-renowned record authority on the year it delivered 39,856 babies – 1966. That is an average of 109 babies a day being born at there. Of course, this means the KKH was once the world’s largest maternity hospital. It definitely ranks high, as an estimated 1.2 million Singaporeans were born there. It was once not uncommon to discover that an entire family found KKH listed on their birth certificates. Talk about prolific! By the way, the hospital held on to the record for ten straight years.

3. KKH was once called the Pauper Hospital for Women and Children

The authorities at Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) started passing KKH their indigent female patients in 1905. Subsequently, the latter started accepting indigent children and female patients suffering from leprosy as well. As a result, the name underwent a temporary change.

4. KKH began specialising in treating STDs when prostitution was legalised in Singapore.

The hospital was already admitting more women and children patients by 1865 when the British colonial government introduced the Contagious Diseases Ordinance in 1870. This official decree came about as a result of a rise in sexually transmitted diseases, therefore sex workers were under legal obligation to get their health checked. The KKH admitted them to the women’s ward, which was called the Lock Hospital two years later.

5. A president of Singapore was a doctor at KKH.

The second president of the republic, Benjamin Sheares, who was quite a record-breaker himself, became the first Singaporean specialising in Obstetrics and Gynaecology. He began his duties at KKH in 1937, heading the Obstetrics and Gynaecology department until the Japanese Occupation. MIMS

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