LCQ5: Development of Chinese medicine industry in Hong Kong

     Following is a question by Ir Dr Hon Raymond Ho and a reply by the Secretary for Food and Health, Dr York Chow, in the Legislative Council today (March 16):


     Some members of the trade have pointed out that the demand from members of the public for Chinese medicine consultation service has been keen in recent years. The Government has also indicated that it will promote the development of Chinese medicine, making Hong Kong a stage for promoting Chinese medicine to the world. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) apart from the additional public Chinese medicine clinics (CMCs) to be established in the Southern District, Kowloon City District, Yau Tsim Mong District and Islands District, whether the authorities concerned will consider further increasing the number of public CMCs and expanding the service to other districts;   

(b) whether it knows the names of the public hospitals which provide Chinese medicine service at present; whether the authorities concerned will establish a Chinese medicine hospital in Hong Kong, so as to provide clinical training opportunities for Chinese medicine courses; and

(c) apart from the contents relating to proprietary Chinese medicine as mentioned in paragraph 80 of the Policy Address for 2010-2011, whether the Government has a more specific plan in promoting the development of Chinese medicine?



(a) The Government has committed to establish a total of 18 public Chinese medicine clinics (CMCs) in collaboration with non-government organisations and the Schools of Chinese Medicine of three local universities, to develop "evidence-based" Chinese medicine and to provide training opportunities for graduates of local Chinese medicine degree programmes. We plan to set up one CMC in each district and a total of 14 CMCs have been set up so far, which are located in Central and Western District, Wan Chai District, Eastern District, Kwun Tong District, Wong Tai Sin District, Sham Shui Po District, Tsuen Wan District, Tai Po District, Sai Kung District, Yuen Long District, Tuen Mun District, Kwai Tsing District, North District and Sha Tin District respectively. Moreover, we have firmed up the sites for the two public CMCs in Southern District and Kowloon City District and plan to have them completed and opened within this year to serve the public. We will continue to identify suitable sites in Yau Tsim Mong and Islands Districts so that public CMCs will be set up in 18 districts as planned.

(b) We hope to combine advantages of Chinese and Western medicine systems in the treatment of specific illnesses through enhancing communication between Chinese and Western medical practitioners and launching Chinese and Western medicines shared care projects founded on evidence-based Chinese medicine under our public healthcare system. Although currently no Chinese medicine departments have been established in public hospitals, three models of Chinese and Western medicines shared care services covering pain management, rehabilitation treatment of stroke/diseases of the nervous system, cancer treatment, palliative care, treatment of diabetes mellitus, dysthymia, gynaecology, traumatology and osteopathy as well as treatment of ear, nose and throat diseases have been made available in 20-odd public hospitals. Services provided under these pilot models include inter-referral service between Chinese and Western medical practitioners, protocol driven service and case conference service. In addition, a larger scale of Chinese and Western medicines shared care services will be considered for incorporation in the proposed Chinese medicine building under the Kwong Wah Hospital Redevelopment Project.

     In respect of clinical training, three local universities, namely the University of Hong Kong, the Chinese University of Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Baptist University, have set up Chinese medicine clinics to provide training for their students. Arrangements have also been made by all the three universities for their students to gain relevant experience in the Mainland. Apart from providing a three-year training programme for graduates, the Hospital Authority has provided clinical internship and clinical practice opportunities in its clinical centres for training and research in Chinese medicine for students and graduates so that they can have more clinical training exposures.

     At present, the Government does not have any plan to establish Chinese medicine hospitals. Organisations interested in setting up private Chinese medicine hospitals are welcome to put forward their detailed proposals to the Government for consideration.

(c) To safeguard public health and consumer rights and to ensure a high professional standard of the Chinese medicine industry so as to expedite its development in Hong Kong, the Chinese Medicine Ordinance (the Ordinance) was enacted in 1999. The Chinese Medicine Council of Hong Kong was subsequently established to implement the regulatory provisions of the Ordinance and develop the Chinese medicine industry with the concept of "evidence-based medicine" in order to move towards internationalisation. Apart from the contents mentioned in the 2010-2011 Policy Address, the Government will continue to create an enabling environment for the development of the Chinese medicine industry through implementing the provisions of the Ordinance, developing standards for Chinese medicine and promoting international exchange and collaboration.

     Implementation of the provisions of the Ordinance is essential to enhancing public confidence in Chinese medicine and promoting the development of Chinese medicine in Hong Kong. With the support and cooperation from the industry, the provisions on mandatory registration of proprietary Chinese medicines (pCm) under the Ordinance came into effect on December 3, 2010. In addition, the requirement that the package of pCm must be labelled and contains a package insert in a prescribed manner will also take effect from December 1, 2011. By then, regulation of Chinese medicine will be further enhanced and more comprehensive to safeguard public health and consumer rights.

     On setting standards for Chinese medicine, the development of safety and quality reference standards for Chinese herbal medicines can bring improvements in the use of raw ingredients for pCm and boost public confidence in Chinese medicines. It can also serve as the cornerstone for refining the research on Chinese medicine, facilitate alignment with international requirements and expedite the modernisation and internationalisation of Chinese medicine as well as the trade. In 2002, the Department of Health (DH) launched a research programme on the Hong Kong Chinese Materia Medica Standards (HKCMMS) on safety and quality for Chinese herbal medicines which are commonly used in Hong Kong. The research work of the HKCMMS has garnered support from six local universities. The standards for 60 Chinese herbal medicines have already been released in the first phase of the programme. The whole programme will cover about 200 Chinese herbal medicines and is expected to be completed by 2012. An International Advisory Board has been established for the HKCMMS. The research results of the HKCMMC have gained worldwide recognition and acceptance, making Hong Kong a platform for promoting Chinese medicine to the world.

     In addition, the Government actively provides professional support to the World Health Organization (WHO) on the development of traditional medicine, including international classification of traditional medicine and formulation of a strategy for traditional medicine for the next decade. DH will organise another meeting on international classification of traditional medicine in collaboration with WHO in March. Through WHO, the Government has strengthened its ties with the international network, and established an adverse event notification mechanism on Chinese medicine and enhanced its information exchanges and cooperation on regulation of herbal medicine with other regions.

Ends/Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Issued at HKT 18:11