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Tripartite senior health officials affirm importance of co-operation and exchange


Senior health officials of the Mainland, Hong Kong and Macau affirmed the importance of co-operation and exchange at a tripartite meeting today (October 15).

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the Third Joint Meeting of Senior Health Officials of the Mainland, Hong Kong and Macau held in Hong Kong, the Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food, Dr York Chow, said the meeting was instrumental in enhancing health protection work of the three places.

He said the joint meeting reaffirmed the resolution and determination of health authorities in the three places in safeguarding the health of the public in a co-ordinated manner.

Dr Chow said with growing globalisation, there were increasing challenges in the work of public health.

"The experience in the past two years demonstrates that infectious diseases do not respect boundaries. To control the spread of new emerging infectious diseases hinges on information, technology and experience exchange and co-operation of health authorities in different places," he said.

Dr Chow said local health authorities had endeavoured to upgrade the ability of Hong Kong in monitoring and controlling infectious diseases in the past year. After the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) crisis, Hong Kong had set up the Centre for Health Protection in accordance with the recommendations of the SARS Expert Committee.

On food safety, Dr Chow said there had been a number of discussion and exchanges with the relevant Mainland authorities in the past year. "Apart from maintaining the existing co-operation, we have also strengthened the already well-established notification mechanism on food safety," he said.

"With better co-operation and speedy exchange of information, we hope to tackle food safety issues at source and to enhance consumer protection."

In addition to strengthening the work on infectious diseases and food safety, Dr Chow said implementing the work of other public health issues could not be slowed down.

"Preparations are under way to enhance the legislative framework for tobacco control and to set up a system of nutrition labelling. I believe the three places could share experiences in these work areas," Dr Chow said.

The items for discussion in the two-day joint meeting are: public health and medical regulations; surveillance, prevention and control of infectious diseases; as well as food safety and hygiene.

The Mainland delegation is led by Vice-Minister of the Chinese Ministry of Health, Professor Huang Jiefu; while the Macau delegation is headed by the Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture of Macau, Dr Chui Sai-on.

Ends/Friday, October 15, 2004


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