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2017 Policy Address by Chief Executive (14)
Voluntary Health Insurance Scheme

237. To encourage the use of private healthcare services by the public, the Government will implement the specific arrangements for the Voluntary Health Insurance Scheme to enhance the quality and transparency of individual hospital insurance products, and examine the details of providing tax deduction for the purchase of regulated health insurance products.

Electronic Health Record Sharing

238. The Electronic Health Record Sharing System was launched successfully last March to promote co-operation between the public and private sectors.  It has been met with active support and participation of patients and healthcare personnel.  The Government will commence work on the second stage, mainly including enhancement of the system's core functions, stepping up security and privacy protection measures and further expansion of the scope of data sharing.

People-oriented Healthcare Services

239. In 2017-18, the Government will provide an additional $2 billion to the HA in total recurrent expenditure.  The additional provision will enable the HA to meet service demand by increasing the number of public hospital beds and operating theatre sessions; enhancing the provision of emergency surgical services; and increasing the quotas for endoscopy examination, diagnostic radiological service, general out-patient and specialist out-patient consultation.

Promoting a Healthy Lifestyle

240. The Government will continue to promote a healthy lifestyle through measures including promoting and supporting breastfeeding, as well as implementing the "Hong Kong Code of Marketing of Formula Milk and Related Products, and Food Products for Infants & Young Children" to prevent inappropriate marketing practices.

241. To safeguard public health, the Government will launch a pilot public-private partnership programme to test a new mode of smoking cessation service supported by family physicians, actively study the proposal to regulate electronic cigarettes through legislation, and step up patrol and enforcement actions in statutory no smoking areas.

Disease Prevention

242. As the Pilot Study on Newborn Screening for Inborn Errors of Metabolism implemented in two public hospitals since October 2015 has proven effective, the Department of Health (DH) and the HA plan to extend the screening service to all public hospitals with maternity wards in phases from the second half of 2017-18.

243. To prevent communicable diseases, the scope of the Government Vaccination Programme and Vaccination Subsidy Scheme has been expanded this year on a pilot basis.  These measures will turn into regular programmes from 2017-18 onwards.

Mental Health

244. The Government will set up a standing advisory committee to review and follow up the development of mental health services in light of the recommendations of the Review Committee on Mental Health.

Development of Chinese Medical Professionals and Chinese Medicines

245. The Government has decided to finance the construction of a Chinese medicine hospital on a reserved site in Tseung Kwan O, and invite the HA to assist in identifying a suitable non-profit-making organisation by tender to take forward the project and operate the hospital.

246. The practice of Chinese medicine in Hong Kong has a solid foundation and is well positioned for further development.  The current-term Government has been actively promoting the development of Chinese medical professionals and Chinese medicines with a multi-pronged approach, which includes establishing a regulatory regime, encouraging local tertiary institutions to nurture Chinese medicine professionals, supporting scientific research and innovation for Chinese medicines, enhancing Chinese medicine primary care services based on the concept of "evidence-based medicine", and promoting the development of the Chinese medicines industry.

247. For the development of Chinese medicines, the Innovation and Technology Commission will continue to support scientific research and development in this area and encourage the use of scientific evidence in establishing the clinical efficacy of traditional Chinese medicines in line with the concept of "evidence-based medicine".  It also supports the industry's efforts in development and innovation, and modernisation of their production and quality control.  Moreover, the DH will continue to compile the Hong Kong Chinese Materia Medica Standards.  So far, the DH has set reference standards for some 230 Chinese materia medica commonly used in Hong Kong, and commenced in 2015-16 a pilot study on the reference standards for Chinese medicines decoction pieces.

248. The Government is actively planning the establishment of the Government Chinese Medicines Testing Institute to be managed by the DH.  The Institute will employ state-of-the-art technology and scientific research to develop a set of internationally-recognised reference standards for Chinese medicines and related products.  It will help empower the industry through transfer of technology to strengthen quality control of products, establish the brand image of Hong Kong in Chinese medicines, and develop Hong Kong into an international hub for scientific research on Chinese medicines testing and quality control.

249. Pending the establishment of the permanent Government Chinese Medicines Testing Institute, a temporary one will be set up in the Science Park and commence operation in phases from the first quarter of this year.  The temporary institute will start some of the work as soon as possible, including the continued development of reference standards for Chinese materia medica and decoction pieces, research on high-end biological and chemical technologies applicable to Chinese materia medica and medicines, and preparation for the establishment of a digitalised herbarium on Chinese medicines of international standard.

250. In respect of the development of Chinese medicine service, the Government will continue the provision of "evidence-based" Chinese medicine primary care services for the public at the Chinese Medicine Centres for Training and Research (CMCs).  In addition, the Government will allocate provisions for the HA to continue to implement and expand the Integrated Chinese-Western Medicine Pilot Project to gather more experience in the operation of integrated Chinese-Western medicine and Chinese medicine in-patient services.

251. To promote the development of Chinese medical professionals and Chinese medicines, the Government has requested the HA to review the salary level of Chinese medicine practitioners employed at the CMCs.

252. In the future, the Government and the Chinese Medicine Development Committee will continue to explore more policies and initiatives to promote the development of Chinese medical professionals and Chinese medicines.

Food Safety

253. Safeguarding food safety has always been a priority of the Government.  Globalisation and trade liberalisation help diversify our food sources.  However, this also poses challenges to food safety control.  To strengthen the gate-keeping function of our food safety system, the Centre for Food Safety will continue to improve existing food import control and food surveillance efforts through such measures as increasing manpower and enhancing information technology management systems.

Safety of Drinking Water

254. The Government is actively following up the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry into Excess Lead Found in Drinking Water.  We will formulate a holistic plan to safeguard drinking water quality and put forward proposals on introducing legislation on drinking water safety.  We will propose amendments to the Waterworks Ordinance and its Regulations, involving a review of the roles and responsibilities of all persons engaged in the design and construction of the inside service, and the systems for their registration.  We will also step up efforts to monitor the materials used in the inside service and, by drawing on overseas experience, implement a water safety plan applicable to Hong Kong.

(To be continued)
Ends/Wednesday, January 18, 2017
Issued at HKT 13:17
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