Following is the speech (translation) by the Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food, Dr Yeoh Eng-kiong, at the Second Joint Meeting of Senior Health Officials of the Mainland, Hong Kong and Macao today (October 25):
Mr Huang, Dr Chui, delegates,
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Macao SAR Government for organising the Second Joint Meeting. I am glad that we can come together again to exchange views and share experiences on medical and health matters of common concern.
Overall Strategy for Control of Infectious Diseases
Early this year, the outbreak of SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) hit both Hong Kong and the rest of the world. With the full support of the Ministry of Health, the health authorities of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao have strengthened exchange and collaboration in the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases. Though SARS has been brought under control, we cannot rule out the possibility of its return.
From the experiences we have gained, we know we need to strengthen our prevention and control work to better prepare ourselves against SARS and other infectious diseases. In this connection, we have put in place a comprehensive strategy to guard against SARS. A Checklist of Measures to Combat SARS was issued last month and we welcome views from various sectors for improvement of the measures. The Checklist reflects the three-pronged approach adopted by the Government -
First, we have put in place comprehensive and cross-community disease preventive measures to guard against the resurgence of the disease;
Secondly, we have maintained a close and effective disease surveillance system; and
Thirdly, we have prepared contingency plans to deal with the possible resurgence of SARS at all levels to combat the disease swiftly and responsively.
We will also take positive steps to implement, as quickly as possible, the 46 recommendations put forward by the SARS Committee which embody a comprehensive range of measures to enhance the preparedness of Hong Kong against SARS. We have established a task force to implement these recommendations and will make regular progress reports to the Monitoring Committee on Implementation. We have already put in place all the urgent tasks to guard against SARS.
In the latter part of our discussions, we will take you through the preventive measures and the overall strategy the HKSAR Government has put in place to control infectious diseases.
Monitoring of Medical Regulatory Requirements
Besides enhancing our preparedness against infectious diseases, we have also stepped up our monitoring of medical regulatory requirements to protect and promote the health of the community. We have recently released two consultation documents, namely, "Regulatory control of medical equipment" in July and "Regulatory control of health claims" in September. We will brief you on the regulatory control proposal when we come to the second agenda.
Monitoring of Food Hygiene and Regulatory Control
Another major area of our work is enforcement of regulatory control to ensure food hygiene. The maintenance of food hygiene is vital to public health. In the discussion that follows, we are going to tell you more about the food safety control system in Hong Kong.
Exchange and Co-operation in Chinese Medicine
At the last Conference, we gave a report on the progress of the regulatory control of Chinese medicine in Hong Kong. During the discussions later, we will update you on the latest development with a view to exploring areas for exchanges and collaboration.
In closing, may I take this opportunity to invite our counterparts in the Mainland and the Macao SAR to attend next year's Joint Meeting to be held in Hong Kong.
End/Saturday, October 25, 2003