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Speech by Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food


Following is the speech by the Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food, Dr Yeoh Eng-kiong, at the First Asia-Pacific Regional Adolescent Health Congress - Towards Healthy Adolescence : Intersectoral Collaboration today (January 10) (English only):

Professor Leung, Dr. Bagshaw, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

It is my great pleasure to be amongst you at this Opening Ceremony of the first Asia-Pacific Regional Adolescent Health Congress. I must congratulate the Hong Kong College of Paediatricians, the School of Nursing of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University and the Hong Kong Paediatric Nurses Association for jointly organising this Congress under the auspices of the International Association of Adolescent Health.

Adolescence is a period of rapid physical, psychological, social and intellectual development. Adolescents are generally thought to be healthy. When boys and girls progress into the second decade of life, they have survived the diseases of early childhood, and the health problems associated with ageing are still many years away. Yet this is also a time when health-compromising behaviours are prone to occur. In addition to common problems like obesity, eating disorders and some mental health problems, risk behaviours such as alcohol use and substance abuse are observed among adolescents and on the rising trend. Peer groups and the media have strong and sometimes negative influence in shaping their health behaviours, such as smoking and casual sex. Unhealthy habits not only undermine adolescents' health but also pose a threat to healthy adulthood.

With a view to promoting healthy lifestyle among adolescents, the Department of Health established the Student Health Service in 1995 to improve the physical and psychosocial health of adolescents, initially through centre-based services. To reach those adolescents who may not wish to receive centre-based services, we launched in 2001 the Adolescent Health Programme as an outreaching service for adolescents. This Programme seeks to equip adolescents, their parents and teachers with knowledge, attitudes and skills to improve the psychosocial wellbeing of adolescents and also aims at empowering adolescents with skills to cope with adversity, to manage stress and to solve problems in order to be better equipped for life challenges. Based on in-depth research, all programmes are developed and delivered by multi-disciplinary teams with a mix of doctors, nurses, psychologists, social workers, dietitians and health promotion officers. The Programme was rolled out to 161 schools for more than 50,000 students in the school year 2002-03. We aim to serve more than 360 schools in the current school year.

Surely the Government cannot take up this challenge alone. The promotion of adolescent health is a multi-sectoral issue requiring collaborative intersectoral partnership. Healthcare providers, social workers, teachers, parents, and young people themselves all have a part to play. In Hong Kong many different organisations are offering various services to adolescents. This Congress indeed offers a precious opportunity for different sectors and regions to build up the necessary network. I am sure we can help our young people realise a better future through our collective efforts.

Finally, I would like to thank the Congress Steering Committee for making meticulous arrangements for this meeting. Your efforts have enabled internationally renowned experts to come here to share knowledge and experience in tackling the wide range of issues of adolescent health. I hope all participants will find the Congress rewarding. For those overseas visitors, I wish you a pleasant stay in Hong Kong. Thank you.

Ends/Saturday, January 10, 2004


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