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


Following is an opening speech (English only) by the Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food, Dr Yeoh Eng-kiong, at "Enhancing the Evidence-base for TCM Practice - Methodology and Grantsmanship" workshop today (October 30):

Dr Straus, Dr Ramsay, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good morning! It gives me immense pleasure to welcome you to this international workshop entitled "Enhancing the Evidence-base for TCM Practice - Methodology and Grantsmanship". The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region is pleased to be a sponsor of this workshop, alongside with the world-renown National Centre for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, NCCAM in short, of the National Institutes of Health, and the premier University of Maryland, Baltimore, both of the United States of America. I would like to express my gratitude to Dr Stephen Straus and Dr David Ramsay for their effective leadership in bringing to fruition this challenging, but worthy, project.

This 2-day international workshop brings together a group of experts of international standing to address a diverse range of issues in research methodology and grantsmanship involving Traditional Chinese Medicine, TCM. The real value of this workshop, however, lies not in imparting knowledge, important though this may be. Rather it is the opportunity it provides for participants to be involved in interactive discussions with the panel of distinguished speakers. Through your participation, I believe this workshop will be able to make a difference, a difference in the standards of methodological rigour that are beginning to appear in TCM research, and a difference in the standards of grants applications.

TCM has a set of philosophies and a wide spectrum of practices which differ from conventional medicine. TCM aims not only to relieve symptoms and cure diseases, but also to restore imbalance, bring back harmony to the body system and promote wellness. The holistic nature of TCM has somehow to be acknowledged or captured by the study designs. This is but one important challenge encountered by the research community. Others include standardized and individualised treatment, choice of controls and placebos, and role of practitioner as a component or contributor to treatment. I hope many of these challenges will be explored and discussed in depth, enabling the research community to gain further insights to advance TCM research methodology to a higher level.

Promoting research and development in TCM is certainly a strategic plank of the Government's overall initiative on Chinese Medicine. Our vision, as articulated in the Chief Executive's Policy Address in 1997 and 1998, is to develop Hong Kong into an international centre of Chinese Medicine. To achieve this policy goal, four strategic initiatives have been launched, namely:-

*the development of a comprehensive regulatory framework;

*the establishment of a good system of a formal education and training;

*the provision of Chinese medicine services in public sector, and

*the promotion of research and development, which I have just mentioned.

On the regulatory framework, the Chinese Medicine Ordinance was enacted in July 1999, making regulation of Chinese medicines and Chinese Medicine practices a statutory requirement. An independent statutory regulatory body, the Chinese Medicine Council of Hong Kong, was formed in December 1999. Since then, the Council has been kept extremely busy to devise and implement regulatory measures for the registration of Chinese Medicine Practitioner and proprietary Chinese medicines, and licensing of traders and manufacturers of Chinese medicines. The Government is also developing regulatory standards for commonly used Chinese medicine herbs, based on scientific principles and evidence to ensure the safety and quality of these herbs.

On the system of education and training, resources have been deployed to provide full-time undergraduate and postgraduate degree courses on Chinese medicine practice and on Chinese medicine pharmacy at three of the tertiary institutions.

Finally, on the provision of Chinese Medicine services in public sector. In this respect, we plan to introduce a service based, research oriented model to provide Chinese Medicine services in the outpatient setting, beginning in year 2003.

Developing Chinese Medicine systematically is therefore very high on the Government's agenda. Adopting a scientific approach is very much part of our strategy. I regard this workshop an important milestone for us to move towards our policy goal.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for sparing your time to participate in this workshop. Given the pre-eminence of our panel of speakers and many of our delegates, I am sure this workshop will be intellectually stimulating and professionally rewarding. To our participants from overseas, I would also like to wish you an enjoyable stay in this our World City, Hong Kong.

Thank you very much.

End/Wednesday, October 30, 2002


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