Following is a speech by the Secretary for Health and Welfare, Dr E K Yeoh when attending the opening ceremony of the Tenth International Conference of Drug Regulatory Authorities today (June 24):
Mr Zheng, Dr Suzuki, Professor Hildebrandt, Dr Chan, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I have great pleasure to be with you on this occasion of the Tenth International Conference of Drug Regulatory Authorities (ICDRA). The ICDRA provides a unique forum for drug regulators to share experience, to discuss topics of common interest and to address issues of concern. This is the first time that the ICDRA is held in this part of the world, especially in Hong Kong, China. I am happy to see that more than 230 participants from over 100 countries are taking part in this important international conference. My heartiest welcome to you all.
An important objective of drug regulation is to ensure the availability of good quality, safe and effective pharmaceutical products to the public. To this end, the World Health Organization has, in collaboration with various government agencies and individual experts, developed and established clear and practical guidelines to assure the quality and safety of drugs. Substantial progress has been achieved globally over the years, but much remains to be done.
The lack of essential drugs, inappropriate use and poor drug quality continue to pose serious health threats in many parts of the world. At the same time, we are faced with new issues brought about by globalization, the development of free trade, the challenges arising from regulation of traditional medicines and the rapid introduction of innovative treatments. Increasingly sophisticated technologies and techniques in health care, and the extensive use of the Internet as a means of communication present new challenges for us all. It is important that we take advantage of these developments and make the best out of them.
To protect public health, and to meet the expectations and demands of the people of Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government has formulated a comprehensive plan to develop and regulate Traditional Chinese Medicine, to integrate Chinese medicine into mainstream health service systems and to support research evidence for the basis of clinical practice. There are formidable challenges facing the development of Chinese medicine, including setting standards for professional practice and drug regulation, broadening research to encompass its holistic nature, maximizing the economic potential and developing policies to ensure that the system benefits the people who use it.
Many of these issues will be addressed during this conference. I hope that by working together, we will find practical and effective solutions. Through our joint efforts, we shall be able to maximize the full potential of technical advances through which the promise of health for all will become a reality.
End/Monday, June 24, 2002