Press Release



Speech by Secretary for Health and Welfare (English only)


Following is a speech by the Secretary for Health and Welfare, Dr E K Yeoh, at the Opening Ceremony of the

Second Pan-Pacific Conference on Rehabilitation: Neurological Rehabilitation today (August 25):

Professor Poon, Professor Han, Professor Hui-Chan, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure to officiate at this Opening Ceremony of the Second Pan-Pacific Conference on Rehabilitation and address such a distinguished audience. I would like to take this opportunity to extend a very warm welcome to our distinguished guests and all participants to this Conference.

Worldwide, more and more of the global ageing population suffer from neurological disorders, such as stroke, Dementia and Parkinson's Disease. Despite advances in drug treatment and surgery, many patients with neurological disorders remain disabled. Disability, which may be static or progressive, may entail loss of mobility, incontinence, cognitive impairment, psychological impairment and chronic pain. According to a study conducted jointly by the World Health Organisation, World Bank and Harvard School of Public Health, by the year 2020 - that is 20 years from now - neurological disorders will account for 10% of lost years of healthy life through premature death and living with a disability in developed countries, and stroke will rank as the second leading cause of lost years of healthy life. Neurological rehabilitation plays a key role in helping patients attain a better quality of life.

The objective of rehabilitation is to promote and provide comprehensive and effective measures necessary for the prevention of disability, the development of the physical, mental and social capabilities of people with a disability, and the realization of a physical and social environment conducive to meeting the goals of their full participation in social life and development, and of equalization of opportunities. Neurological rehabilitation aims to help patients restore to the highest level of functions and independence, and more importantly, improve their quality of life - physically, emotionally and socially. For this purpose, a person with neurological disorders should be regarded as a whole person requiring guidance to learn actively to control as far as possible his or her own body, in order to function in ordinary daily activities.

We need the support of a multi-disciplinary team comprising medical and nursing staff, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, neuropsychologists and social workers to provide holistic care to a neurological patient. A typical neurological rehabilitation program includes training to improve physical functions and motions; assistance with activities of daily living; counselling to deal with patients' anxiety and depression; goal setting involving patients and their family members; and retraining and network employment.

The effective delivery of holistic rehabilitation services requires the development of an integrated health care system that spans acute care, acute and sub-acute rehabilitation, outpatient services, home care and community support services. In line with the global trend, we, in Hong Kong, are taking active steps to better coordinate services with a view to providing patients with continuum of care and enabling them to integrate into the community.

Neurological rehabilitation has been evolving rapidly to adapt to our changing health care environment. Delivery of neurological rehabilitation has as much a social service dimension as a medical perspective. Indeed, rehabilitation of patients suffering from neurological disorder has presented challenges to medical and social services all over the world.

This Conference, jointly organised by the Hong Kong Polytechnic University and Beijing Medical University, provides a golden opportunity for experts from all over the World to share their knowledge and experience in neurological rehabilitation and explore innovative programmes for the management of neurological patients. With the participation of so many internationally renowned speakers and distinguished delegates, I am sure that we shall be able to come up with creative ideas to further enhance the quality of neurological rehabilitation services.

Lastly, I wish you all a rewarding and fulfilling experience at this Conference, and for its overseas delegates, a wonderful stay in this lovely city.

Thank you.

End/Friday, August 25, 2000