Traditional Chinese Simplified Chinese Email this article
LCQ9: Epidemic-prevention support to service units of welfare NGOs

     Following is a written reply by the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, to a question by Dr Hon Pan Pey-chyou in the Legislative Council today (July 8):


     To enhance cleanliness and prevent human swine influenza, the Social Welfare Department earlier allocated additional resources to more than 3,000 social welfare service units (SWSUs), providing each of them with supplies or $3,000 for purchasing cleaning and disinfectant items.  Yet, some groups have pointed out that non-subvented SWSUs have not benefited, and the amount allocated is insufficient to cover the expenses for purchasing adequate epidemic-prevention equipment.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) whether it will consider providing epidemic-prevention supplies to non-subvented SWSUs and private residential care homes for the elderly, and those which have participated in the Bought Place Scheme, and also assisting these organisations to carry out epidemic-prevention and cleaning work; if it will not, of the reasons for that;

(b) how the Government will monitor SWSUs' use of the additional supplies and subsidies so that appropriate epidemic protection is available to every service user; and

(c) whether the authorities will further provide additional supplies to SWSUs with a large number of service users and subsidise these SWSUs to purchase adequate epidemic-prevention equipment (including cleaning and disinfectant items), and whether they will assist these SWSUs in purchasing relevant epidemic-prevention equipment (such as infra-red thermometers)?



(a) In May and June 2009, the Social Welfare Department (SWD) on separate occasions distributed epidemic-prevention items, including cleansing and disinfectant materials, infra-red thermometers and surgical masks, to various non-subvented welfare units to assist them in carrying out cleaning work and stepping up precautionary measures against human swine influenza (HSI). These units include 57 self-financing homes or other service units operated by non-governmental organisations (NGOs), 51 private residential care homes for the disabled and 576 private residential care homes for the elderly (RCHEs), among which 129 are RCHEs participating in the Enhanced Bought Place Scheme.

(b) SWD twice allocated additional provision to subvented NGOs in May and June 2009.  The NGOs may, having regard to their own circumstances, purchase cleansing and disinfectant materials as appropriate.  Subvented welfare NGOs are required to submit audited financial statements to SWD, reporting on how the additional provision is used.  When conducting review visits and on-site assessment, SWD will also assess the performance of the service units against a set of Service Quality Standards, one of which is that the service units should take all reasonable steps to ensure the provision of a safe physical environment for their staff and service users.  Should there be any irregularities, the NGO will have to provide an explanation and rectify them.

     SWD also organises briefing sessions, seminars and training workshops for both subvented and non-subvented units to raise their awareness of infection prevention and help them carry out precautionary measures.  SWD also inspects licensed homes/centres on a regular basis.

(c) In distributing the epidemic-prevention items, SWD had already adjusted the quantities having regard to the size of the units concerned.

     In the light of the spread of HSI, the Administration will seek the approval of the Finance Committee of the Legislative Council on 10 July 2009 for additional funding of $300 million to implement enhanced measures and further improve environmental hygiene.  Of this new provision, $95 million will go to SWD as additional resources for some 1,800 subvented welfare services units to hire cleansing contractors or employ part-time or temporary helping hands to strengthen general cleansing service and enhance environmental hygiene.

     We will monitor the development of HSI and review the need to provide additional support to the service units of welfare NGOs.

Ends/Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Issued at HKT 11:39


Print this page