Press Release



Speech by SHW (English only)


The following is the speech by the Secretary for Health and Welfare, Dr E K Yeoh, at the Opening Ceremony of 11th Asian Pacific Congress of Gastroenterology and 8th Asian Pacific Congress of Digestive Endoscopy today (March 10):

Professor Takemoto, Professor Niwa, Professor Lam, Dr Chao, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great privilege for Hong Kong to host this four-yearly Asian Pacific Congress for the first time and particularly so right at the beginning of the new millenium. I would like to take this opportunity to extend a very warm welcome to all of you, in particular, our distinguished guests and participants from overseas and the Mainland. Your enthusiasm and interest in sharing your expertise and experience with us is very much appreciated.

Remarkable progress in optical engineering and in fibre-optics during the past two decades has altered the understanding and management of many gestro-intestinal disorders. Enormous advances in digitalised imaging have enabled the application of this in video endoscopy technique in virtually all endoscopic procedures, with its superb imaging in real time.

These technological advances have indeed set in train the surgical revolution in the mid-1980s. Endoscopic techniques were initially used primarily for diagnosis, but are now increasingly used in important therapeutic applications, such as gall stones and bladder removal, hernia repair and cardiomyotomy. Superb optical resolution and precise control of endoscope tip permit direct visualization of mucosal abnormalities in the oesophagus, stomach and duodenum. These technologies herald in minimal access surgery and day surgery which nowadays account for a significant proportion of diagnostic and therapeutic intervention of gastro-intestinal diseases in most advanced countries. With the advent of minimal invasive surgery, patients can enjoy more speedy recovery because of reduced trauma, without compromising efficacy, outcome and safety when compared with conventional surgery.

Coincident with the evolution of endoscopic techniques, diagnostic and therapeutic modalities have been developed using radiography, ultrasound and nuclear scanning. These new technologies would no doubt provide clinicians with full armentarium for the intervention of various gastro-intestinal disorders. The problem faced by gastroenterologists and digestive endoscopists is however deciding which of these diagnostic and therapeutic alternatives is the most appropriate for patients as well as the most cost-effective one.

Gastroenterologists and digestive endoscopists, like many other clinical specialists, are not only facing challenges arising from the development of new technologies. The increasing emphasis on primary care and the rising expectations for quality and yet cost-effective services, have all led to a need to reappraise how services for gastro-intestinal diseases and digestive disorders should be provided in the future. These changes will no doubt place increasing demands on the knowledge, skills and competencies of gastroenterologists and digestive endoscopists. To rise to these changes and new demands, we need to have in-depth research into early detection and treatment of the diseases and appropriate training for gastroenterologists and digestive endoscopists.

This Congress, jointly organized by the Hong Kong Society of Gastroenterology and the Hong Kong Society of Digestive Endoscopy, provides a unique opportunity for local and international gastroenterologists and digestive endoscopists to share their knowledge and experience gained from their research or practice. With the outstanding Scientific Programme prepared by the Organizing Committee and the gathering of so many internationally renowned speakers and participants, I am sure we all stand to learn much at this Congress. This Congress will surely contribute much to ensuring that the Region's gastroenterologists and digestive endoscopists remain at the forefront of professional practice and research in their clinical field.

May I end my speech by wishing you all a rewarding and fulfilling experience at this Congress, and for those joining us from overseas, a pleasant and exciting stay in our dynamic and exhilarating city.

Thank you.

End/Friday, March 10, 2000