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Holistic approach to tuberculosis control (with photo)

     The Secretary for Food and Health, Dr Ko Wing-man, said today (March 24) that the Government has all along been taking a holistic approach to prevent the spread of tuberculosis (TB), which remains one of the most prevalent infectious diseases worldwide, despite a significant improvement in the diagnosis and treatment of the disease.

     Speaking at a ceremony to mark 2013 World TB Day, Dr Ko said, "To fight against TB, we need a series of comprehensive measures which are both acceptable to and supported by the community."

     Dr Ko said that to achieve this, the chest clinics under the Department of Health (DH)'s Centre for Health Protection (CHP) provide members of the public with TB examination and full-term outpatient treatment free of charge. The CHP's TB Laboratory was designated as the World Health Organization (WHO)'s Supranational TB Reference Laboratory, providing quality support for testing of the TB bacteria. The Hospital Authority (HA) provides inpatient services to TB patients to ensure timely and effective management of the disease. In order to enhance control measures for infectious diseases including TB, the Prevention and Control of Disease Ordinance (Cap. 599) was commenced in July 2008.

     Addressing the ceremony, the Controller of the CHP, Dr Leung Ting-hung, said that the emergence of drug-resistant TB in recent years had aroused much concern in the healthcare sector. Drug-resistant TB was related to the inappropriate use of drugs. To effectively control TB, the Hong Kong Government has adopted the Directly Observed Treatment (DOT) method strongly recommended by the WHO since the 1970s, with remarkable results.

     Under the DOT, patients take medication regularly and complete the course of drug therapy under the direct observation and support of healthcare staff in order to minimise the possibility of drug resistance.

     Dr Leung said, "Currently, the proportion of drug-resistant TB (which mainly includes multidrug-resistant TB and extensively drug-resistant TB) is not high in Hong Kong. Multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) and extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB) accounted respectively for about 1 per cent and 0.1 per cent of the overall bacteriologically positive cases, but we will not treat the problem lightly. We will continue our endeavours in TB prevention, treatment and surveillance, with emphasis on stressing the importance of the proper use of drugs.

     "The DH will continue to strengthen the existing TB surveillance and control strategy and mechanism, and maintain close co-operation and exchange with the WHO and other international and local TB prevention organisations with a view to further reducing the TB incidence rate and curbing the number of drug-resistant TB cases in Hong Kong with all-out efforts," he added.

     According to the WHO, 8.7 million and 1.4 million people fell ill with and died from TB respectively in 2011 globally.

     In Hong Kong, there were around 5,000 notified cases in 2012 at a rate of 70 cases per 100,000 members of the population, near the historical low for Hong Kong.

     The theme of the 2013 World TB Day campaign is "Join Hands to fight against TB in every possible way". Today's ceremony was jointly organised by the Hong Kong Tuberculosis, Chest and Heart Diseases Association, the DH and the HA. A two-day exhibition and educational activities are being held to disseminate the anti-TB message.

     The Chairman of the Hong Kong Tuberculosis, Chest and Heart Diseases Association, Mr Steve Lan, and the Chairman of the Hospital Authority, Mr Anthony Wu, were among the officiating guests.

     The public can call the DH's TB hotline at 2572 6024 for more TB-related information, or visit the website jointly developed by the DH and the HA ( or the WHO website (

Ends/Sunday, March 24, 2013
Issued at HKT 15:46


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