Following is the speech (English only) by the Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food, Dr Yeoh Eng-kiong, at the opening ceremony of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Technical Meeting on Evidence of Health Promotion Effectiveness held at the Regal Kowloon Hotel today (October 23):
Dr Puska(Note), Dr Lam, Delegates of the Member States, Distinguished Guests, Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen:
I am most pleased to be amongst you at this opening ceremony of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Technical Meeting on Evidence of Health Promotion Effectiveness. First, I would like to extend a very warm welcome to all of you, particularly our distinguished guests, speakers and delegates from across the world. It is indeed our honour that a WHO technical meeting on health promotion is held in Hong Kong for the first time.
Most people may not be aware that our modern lifestyle has made a profound impact on us. The effect is far reaching and penetrates the social, political and economic realms of the society. Ultimately, the impact is on our well-being and quality of life. For the past two decades, we learn that health promotion has emerged globally as an effective framework to address the broad determinants of health. Health promotion is seen as a process that enables individuals and communities to take control over conditions and circumstances that influence their health.
I am happy to report that Hong Kong has done well in enhancing health. The local population outlives most people in other places. The life expectancy at birth was 78 years for men and 84 years for women in 2001. Hong Kong's infant mortality rate, at 2.7 per 1,000 live births, ranks among the lowest in the world. But we must not be complacent. We need to sustain health improvement efforts and enhance their effectiveness. To achieve this, we need evidence to guide interventions development, identify best health promotion practices, contribute to healthy policy making and advise on health conducive funding allocations.
In recent years, health care funders, managers, politicians and practitioners around the world have placed greater emphasis on evidence-based practice. The term "evidence-based" features prominently in the medical, public health and health promotion arena. It is indeed timely that the WHO organises a Technical Meeting on Evidence of Health Promotion Effectiveness in collaboration with the Hong Kong Department of Health. The occasion has brought together a group of local and overseas experts and practitioners who have much to share on an extensive range of issues in health promotion.
The technical meeting not only provides an opportunity for participants to share, preview and examine evidence of health promotion effectiveness from selected projects, it is also given an important mission of developing a set of guidelines for practitioners to plan and evaluate interventions. I believe that these guidelines will contribute greatly to the evaluation of health promotion and foster the development of the disciplines and in promoting the well-being of the global population. I am particularly pleased that Hong Kong is party to this meaningful exercise.
The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government will continue to support the global efforts of the WHO. Global partnership provides synergy and facilitates the accomplishment of public health goals. By sharing resources, we enrich one another and contribute to building the evidence base for health promotion.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Organising Committee of this meeting for their hard work in the past few months. With such a gathering of distinguished delegates, I am sure we will have much to learn and benefit from one another. I wish you all a successful meeting, and to the overseas delegates, a pleasant stay in Asia's World City.
(Note) Dr Pekka Puska is Director, Department of Non-communicable Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, WHO
End/Thursday, October 23, 2003