Following is a speech by the Secretary for Health and Welfare,Dr E K Yeoh,today (July 14) at the Opening Ceremony of Dentistry 2000 - Hong Kong Dental Association Golden Jubilee:
Dr Tsang, Dr Lai, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
It is indeed a great honour for me to join you this morning to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of the Hong Kong Dental Association.
Over the past 50 years, the Hong Kong Dental Association has developed itself into an organization representing 80% of the local dental profession. This is no small achievement by any standards, especially in a place like Hong Kong where diversity is the key to success. I must congratulate the Hong Kong Dental Association, its past and present members for this outstanding achievement.
During the past half-century, the Hong Kong Dental Association has witnessed Hong Kong growing from a small entrepot to a modern cosmopolitan city. In the process, changing demands and rising expectations from the increasingly sophisticated population have posed new challenges to all, not least to the health care professions.
Patients are becoming better informed, more aware of their rights and more prepared to stand by them. They expect to be partners in looking after their own health, rather than simply clients. They expect to take part in deciding the diagnostic and treatment procedures, rather than simply following the instructions of health care professionals. As dentists, you will be pleased to meet patients who are more responsible and cooperative but, at the same time, you will find them more demanding. You have to come up with the best advice and communicate effectively with your patients before applying the solutions to their specific health needs. These changes may be seen as crisis by some but opportunities by others. I am confident that the Association stands ready to lead the profession to overcome the challenges and capitalize on the opportunities.
Continuous learning and professional development are important parts of the professional duties of health care professionals. It enables them to keep up with the latest technological development and offer the most appropriate advice to their patients. I am happy to see so many distinguished local and overseas scholars in various specialties of dentistry gather here for this dental congress. I am sure our dental professionals will have very fruitful lessons to learn from all of you in the coming few days.
So much for the challenges. I would now turn to a practical problem. It is disappointing that, despite their rising affluence, the majority of Hong Kong people have yet to attach due importance to their oral health. For example, a recent Household Survey in the 3rd quarter of 1999 shows that only 21.6% of those surveyed had their teeth checked up regularly. This calls for action, both from the Government and the dental profession, to bring about a change in behaviour. I am particularly impressed that the Dental Association has taken the initiative to collaborate with the Oral Health Education Unit of the Department of Health to jointly organize a public exhibition in the foyer just outside this Theatre. I am sure this Exhibition will bring the participants much fun while raising their awareness of oral health.
Dr Tsang and Dr Lai, allow me to make use of this forum to announce an important initiative to be conducted by the Department of Health. The Department will conduct an Oral Health Survey next year. This is a major territory-wide exercise conducted every ten years. The Department of Health will select, on a random basis, persons from different age groups and invite them for oral health assessment. The findings will help us understand the oral health status of the population. We will take into account the findings in setting oral health goals, re-prioritizing oral health programmes, and devising measures to achieve these goals in the coming decade. May I call upon your support for the survey. A good response rate is essential to ensure that the data we collect, which will be used to set the oral health goals, is representative of the population and reflects the actual situation.
Lastly, may I congratulate the Hong Kong Dental Association again for 50 years of remarkable achievements and I wish your Golden Jubilee celebrations and the symposium every success.
END/Friday, July 14,2000