The following is the speech by the Secretary for Health and Welfare, Mrs Katherine Fok, at the Annual General Meeting of the Hong Kong Tuberculosis, Chest and Heart Diseases Association today (Friday):
Mr Shroff, Members of the Board of Directors, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my pleasure to be here today at this Annual General Meeting of the Hong Kong Tuberculosis, Chest and Heart Diseases Association.
I feel honoured to have this opportunity to address this distinguished audience. 1999 has been a special year for the Association as it celebrates its 50th Anniversary. The occasion provides an opportunity for the Association to take stock of its achievements in the past years and to plan ahead for its future development to meet the immense challenges that lie ahead.
Over the past five decades, the Association has provided unfailing services to our community. With the establishment of the Ruttonjee Sanatorium in 1949 and the opening of the Grantham Hospital in 1957, the Association has contributed immensely to the well being of tuberculosis, chest and heart disease patients in Hong Kong. I am pleased to note the Association is now extending its scope of service to the caring of the elderly. I understand that the Association's new residential care home for 250 elderly persons will be ready for opening at the end of this year. I must commend the Association, under the able leadership of the Chairman and his colleagues, for its many contributions to the community over the past half-a-century.
The Association is now making some final preparations for holding, in June this year, the 20th Eastern Region Conference of the International Union against Tuberculosis & Lung Diseases. The hosting of this prestigious event signifies the recognition of the Association's achievements by the international medical community. The Conference will bring together leading experts from around the Region, encourage and facilitate the exchange of scientific knowledge and expertise among participants. As heart and lung diseases will remain major threats to the health of our community in the coming years, the Conference will be a great help to equipping our professionals for meeting this future challenge.
Looking ahead, I would also like to take this opportunity to refer you to our current review of the local health care system, which the Government is undertaking. As you must be aware, we recently published the consultancy report prepared by the Harvard University on this important matter. The report has confirmed our worries that there are problems in our health care system, and that unless we push for some early reforms, the quality of our public health care services may deteriorate significantly in future years.
We invite public comments on the report. So far, there has been intense public interest, and many of the issues covered in the report are keenly debated in our community. I urge the Association to study the report in detail and let us have your views and recommendations. They will be important reference for mapping out the way forward for our future health care system.
End/Friday, 14 May 1999