Work of the SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) Expert Committee, which is appointed by the Chief Executive, is in good progress, the Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food, Dr Yeoh Eng-kiong, said.
He told a stand-up media session today (June 20) that a tele/video-conference was arranged last night in which committee members had a free exchange of views in relation to the work of the committee in preparation for upcoming meetings.
Dr Yeoh said two groups would be formed with one looking at hospital management and administration while the other focusing on public health issues.
He also announced the appointment of Sir Cyril Chantler as chairperson of the Group on Hospital Management and Administration and Professor Sian Griffiths as the chairperson of the Group on Public Health. The two experts will oversee information gathering and fact-finding of related issues of their respective groups and lead discussions.
Sir Cyril is Chairman of the Board of the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Trust in the UK. Prof Griffiths is the President of the Faculty of Public Health Medicine of the Royal Colleges of Physicians in the UK.
Dr Yeoh stressed that there is an urgency to enhance the capability and preparedness of our health care system in the prevention and management of infectious diseases.
"The primary task of the Expert Committee is to identify lessons to be learnt and make recommendations on improvement measures, such as the type of isolation facilities, to our health care system so that we will be better prepared for any resurgence of SARS in winter," he said.
Dr Yeoh also announced that the committee would hold a series of meetings in Hong Kong with the first one being the Hospital Management and Administration Group meeting, which would be held on June 26-28.
The Group will examine a wide range of issues including infection control facilities and measures for health care workers and patients, isolation facilities, and data collection and management in hospitals.
The Public Health Group will convene in early July while the plenary session of the committee is likely to be held in mid-August.
Apart from convening meetings in Hong Kong, committee members will also take the opportunities to hold meetings and interviews with various health care groups and organisations including board members of the Hospital Authority, frontline health and medical workers as well as legislators to seek information on areas related to their work.
Meanwhile, the committee is inviting public submissions from members of the public to provide information on the SARS incident and on issues relevant to the terms of reference of the committee, particularly on areas of improvement to the health care system, the prevention and management of infectious diseases, and lessons to be learnt to better prepare our system for any future outbreaks. The deadline for submissions is June 30, 2003.
The committee is expected to conclude its work in September with a view to submitting a report on the SARS incident to the Chief Executive.
End/Friday, June 20, 2003