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Speech by Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food (English only)


Following is a speech (English only) by the Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food, Dr Yeoh Eng-kiong, at the opening ceremony of the Third Pan-Pacific Conference on Rehabilitation at Hong Kong Polytechnic University today (August 23):

Prof Poon, Prof Hui-Chan, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my honour to be here today to officiate at the opening ceremony of the Third Pan-Pacific Conference on Rehabilitation. First of all, I would like to extend a warmest welcome to all distinguished speakers and participants, in particular, those who come from overseas countries and Mainland China.

I would also like to congratulate the Hong Kong Polytechnic University on its good work in organizing this very meaningful event which makes it possible for health care professionals from different parts of the world to get together to exchange views on how to merge the concepts and practices between the east and the west in rehabilitation.

Rehabilitation is the specialty which seeks to restore and maintain individuals at their maximum level of physical, mental, and social function. Over the years, there have been noticeable advancement in terms of approach in this area. The most significant change is the shift from a predominantly medical rehabilitation approach to one in which psychological and socialcultural aspects are given equal importance. This modern approach to rehabilitation involves processes which are clearly distinct from recovery, include learning, the acquisition of new skills, and changing of behaviour. The outcome of the processes is therefore not simply confined to the eradication of biological impairment. Instead, it also embraces well-being and social participation of the client.

This new approach underlines the holistic nature of rehabilitation i.e. treating client as a whole. Such approach indeed fits in nicely with the philosophy of Chinese Medicine which has been in practice in this part of the world for a few thousand years. Apart from its holistic philosophy, Chinese Medicine practices including acupuncture, naprapathy, as well as medical herbs have proven to be conducive to effective rehabilitation. It is therefore most fitting that we meet here today in Hong Kong to exchange views on the subject of 'Eastern and Western Concepts and Practices in Rehabilitation'.

Geographically, Hong Kong being at the gateway to the China, provides an ideal setting to explore the idea of a fusion of Chinese medicine and practices with Western methods in rehabilitation. In addition, historically, Hong Kong has been the place where influences of the East and West converge, resulting in many good examples of integration of the best of both 'worlds'.

Talking about fusion of East and West, I should like to mention that this integrative model is applicable not only to rehabilitation but also to the whole spectrum of health care. Indeed, this is the direction where Hong Kong is moving towards.

Over the past few years, we have launched a series of initiatives to create a favourable environment conducive to development of Chinese medicine in Hong Kong. These initiatives include establishing a comprehensive regulatory framework, provision of formal education in Chinese medicine at tertiary level, promotion of research, development and commercialization of Chinese medicinal products. So far, the results have been very encouraging.

We also plan to introduce Chinese medicine into the public healthcare system, initially in the form of outpatient services. We shall facilitate the development of standards and models of interface between western and Chinese medicines. Our objective is to achieve an integration of Chinese medicine and western medicine in the public healthcare system in the long run. With the setting up of Chinese medicine outpatient clinics in the territory over the next few years, there will be a wider choice of treatment for patients, greater opportunities for Chinese medicine research, and closer collaboration between western and Chinese medicine.

Like many other countries, the life expectancy of the Hong Kong population is increasing. It is forecasted that in the next 20 years, the number of people aged 65 years above will reach 1.37 million representing about 15 per cent of the total population, with one third over the age of 75. In the face of the challenges brought about by a rapidly ageing population, there is an imminent need to advance our knowledge on medical rehabilitation, particularly on how to enhance the quality of life of patients through rehabilitative techniques. The Third Pan-Pacific Conference on Rehabilitation provides us with an excellent opportunity to gain more insight in this area.

With the valuable input of our distinguished speakers and knowledgeable delegates from both the East and the West, I am sure that the Conference will stimulate insightful ideas to deliver our rehabilitative and medical interventions in a more effective way through integration of eastern and western concepts and practices in rehabilitation.

I wish all of you a most stimulating and fruitful conference, and our overseas visitors a pleasant and enjoyable stay in Hong Kong.

Thank you.

End/Friday, August 23, 2002


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