Following is the speech (English only) by the Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food, Dr Yeoh Eng-kiong, at the Opening Ceremony of SARS Clinical Management Workshop at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre Extension today (June 13):
Dr Ryan, Dr Salter, Distinguished delegates, colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,
Welcome to the SARS Clinical Management Workshop. The Health, Welfare and Food Bureau of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government is most privileged to co-organise this workshop with the World Health Organisation.
I have mixed feelings standing here today. On the one hand, it is a great privilege for me to welcome clinical experts with SARS experience from all parts of the world to come together, and for all of us here to learn from each other best practices to combat SARS. On the other hand, it is a new disease that we are talking about, one that is caused by a little known virus but one that has caused a lot of problems for different parts of the world during the initial phase. We have encountered the difficulties as governments, healthcare professionals and citizens of our respective countries. We are, of course, saddened by the deaths that have been recorded around the world.
Nevertheless, I am heartened by the fact that the majority of SARS patients have recovered or on the road to recovery. This is due in no small part to the dedication and professionalism of our healthcare staff and scientists, support from the community, and the resilience of the patients themselves. On behalf of the patients and their families, and the wider community, I would like to take this opportunity to express our deepest gratitude to the clinicians, scientists and other healthcare workers for their selfless dedication in treating the disease at the very frontline. Many lives have been saved and families reunited by your efforts.
Although much remains unknown about the disease, unprecedented progress has been made by the local and international scientific community. This Workshop is held precisely to gather the best, currently available, clinical evidence in the management of SARS and control of infection in health care settings by bringing together experience in different countries. During the workshop, clinical experts will be sharing their knowledge and experience in three aspects of SARS management, namely clinical presentation and progression of disease, treatment modalities, and nosocomial infection and infection control. To enable a better exchange of views and perspectives, the workshop has been specifically designed to be interactive and participative. I am certain that all delegates and participants will find the workshop both intellectually stimulating and professionally rewarding.
The intensive sessions of the two-day workshop will result in the formulation of a consensus document, providing the scientific base for SARS clinical management and to guide further research. The consensus document will signify a milestone in our efforts to harness the very best treatment regiment in the battle against SARS. This gathering will also be a living testament to the collaborative partnership that the WHO has worked so tiredlessly to foster, irrespective of race or national boundaries. It is only through such global partnership that effective measures on the prevention and control of infectious diseases can be put in place.
I am confident that by joining hands and putting our heads together, we will ultimately prevail over the SARS virus. Hong Kong is honoured to be able to contribute to the process by hosting this workshop. For our overseas delegates and experts, out of the tight schedule of the workshop, I do hope you will have time to see around Hong Kong. Have a fruitful and enjoyable stay in Hong Kong.
End/Friday, June 13, 2003