Kandang Kerbau Hospital or KK Hospital has witnessed the births of more Singaporeans than any other hospital on the island. The term kandang kerbau (“buffalo enclosure” in Malay) is a reminder of the buffalos that were kept in this district a long time ago.
Built in 1860 to function as a general hospital, KK Hospital became a free maternity hospital in 1924 when the Victoria Street maternity hospital shifted there. In 1997, the government decided to modernise KK Hospital and hence relocated the hospital to a new building on the other side of Kampong Java Road. It was then renamed the KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital.
Singapore’s second president, Benjamin Sheares, was Deputy Medical Superintendent at KK Hospital during World War II. As there was only one other doctor at the hospital, both men stayed there and worked in shifts. The hospital’s mission at that time was to provide good maternity care and midwifery training for medical students and pupil midwives to bring down the high maternal and infant mortality rates. Midwives were kept very busy as there were only three nurses to look after an estimated 200 babies.
In 1966, KK Hospital delivered a record number of 39,835 babies (more than 109 per day) and was listed in the 1968 Guinness Book of Records for delivering the world’s largest number of babies in a single maternity facility in a year. Today, the hospital continues to be Singapore’s largest maternity facility and delivers around a third of babies born in the country.