Following is the opening remarks by the Secretary for Health and Welfare, Dr E K Yeoh, at the meeting of the LegCo Panel on Health Services today (October 17):
I am pleased to have this opportunity to introduce to Members of the Health Panel our plans and programmes for health services in the coming year.
Restructure Preventive Service
As maintaining good health is a lifelong process, we are planning for new initiatives and programmes to restructure and enhance our preventive service to one which aims at promoting lifelong wellness. At present, these programmes include different education and promotion campaigns, immunizations for children, dental and health services for students, health checks for women and the elders.
Building on our existing student health services, we shall initiate a new adolescent health programme, emphasizing healthy schooling and positive parenting.
We shall enhance women's health programme by developing a territory-wide cervical screening programme for women through collaboration of health care providers in the public as well as private sectors. Studies have shown that early detection through screening can greatly help reduce the incidence of and death from cervical cancer.
Another priority area will be the promotion of healthy ageing. In the coming year, we shall focus on encouraging proper diet and regular exercise. In connection with healthy ageing, we shall launch a package of publicity and education programmes to enhance our anti-smoking efforts and the DH will set up a Tobacco Control Office.
Regulate Chinese Medicine
In the coming year, we shall also examine what is the best way for providing outpatient Chinese medicine services in the public sector. There are different options, and we would like to introduce some pilot services by 2001-02.
Enhance Hospital Services
We aim to provide another 409 public hospital beds in 2001-02, increasing the total number of beds in the public hospital system to about 29,400. The number of day places will also be increased by 40 to 1,210.
Extend Outreach Services
We shall continue to extend and improve our outreach and discharge support for discharged patients in 2001. In the next year, we shall focus on the mentally ill. To help these patients reintegrate into the community, we shall strengthen and expand our outpatient and outreach services by increasing the number of community psychiatric teams from 5 to 8 and employing additional outreach community workers to increase the visits and contacts with these psychiatric patients. Additional funds will be provided for the purchase of the new generation of psychiatric drugs, which have less side effects. The latter, in turn, will improve drug compliance and the quality of life of the patients.
Health Care Reform
Last but not the least, I would like to say a few words on health care reforms. Since the release of the Harvard report last year, we have received about 2,200 submissions from the public. We have been studying these submissions and the different components of our health care system, and we are finalizing our consultation document on this subject. The document, setting out the strategic directions for the future, will include proposals for improvement to the health care delivery system, the mechanisms to enhance and assure the quality of care and the funding and financing framework. We will consult widely on these proposals and take into account community views in drawing up our plans and programmes. I look forward to formulating the blueprint for the evolution of our future health care system in collaboration with the healthcare professions and the community.
The health care system must be able to protect and promote health, to provide lifelong holistic care to each citizen at affordable prices and to be financially sustainable in the long term.
Thank you Madam Chairman.
End/Tuesday, October 17, 2000