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LCQ8: Grasping an accurate number of persons with intellectual disabilities
     Following is a question by the Hon Kwong Chun-yu and a written reply by the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Dr Law Chi-kwong, in the Legislative Council today (December 13):
     In a Special Topics Report on persons with disabilities and chronic diseases published in December 2014, the Census and Statistics Department (C&SD) pointed out that difficulties had been encountered when collecting information on persons with intellectual disabilities (PIDs) under the setting of a statistical survey, and hence the survey findings pertaining to PIDs were considered to be subject to a certain degree of under-estimation. With reference to various relevant administrative records and some broad findings of a special topic enquiry and an institutions survey, and on the basis of different assumptions, C&SD arrived at two statistical assessment scenarios, the results of which indicated that the total number of PIDs in Hong Kong was about 71 000 to 101 000, which had a difference as big as 40 per cent between them. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) how the Government, in the absence of an accurate grasp of the number of PIDs in Hong Kong, conducts the relevant service planning to ensure that PIDs are provided with adequate and appropriate services;
(2) whether C&SD will include the number of PIDs as a survey item in the population censuses it conducts once every 10 years; if so, whether this will be implemented in the next population census; if not, of the reasons for that; and
(3) whether the Government will consider allocating additional resources for the Labour and Welfare Bureau to take the lead to (i) commission C&SD or (ii) work in collaboration with C&SD, the Labour Department, the Social Welfare Department, the Hospital Authority and the Education Bureau, to conduct a comprehensive statistical survey on PIDs, so as to grasp an accurate number of PIDs and improve the relevant service planning; if so, of the details and the implementation timetable; if not, the reasons for that?
     The Census and Statistics Department (C&SD) conducted special topic enquiries on persons with disabilities and chronic diseases, including collection of information on persons with intellectual disabilities (PIDs) in 2000, 2006 to 2007 and 2013 respectively. Based on the experience of various rounds of territory-wide surveys, we consider it not possible to make a precise estimate on the number of PIDs by means of such surveys since some families might regard intellectual disabilities as a sensitive topic. Accordingly, the C&SD supplemented the survey findings by making reference to various relevant administrative records to make an assessment on the total number of PIDs. The results of the assessment showed that the total number of PIDs in Hong Kong was about 71 000 to 101 000 in 2013, representing a prevalence rate of some 1.0 per cent to 1.4 per cent for PIDs in Hong Kong. This figure was comparable to the prevalence rate of PIDs in other economies.
     My replies to the Member's sub-questions are as follows:
(1) To ensure that rehabilitation and support services can meet the needs of persons with disabilities (including PIDs), relevant policy bureaux/departments will formulate their service strategies at district/territory-wide level having regard to the relevant factors such as service nature, service demand and cost effectiveness.
     Regarding rehabilitation services, the Social Welfare Department will conduct analysis by making reference to the number of applicants of respective services, their waiting time and location preference as recorded in the Central Referral System for Rehabilitation Services, as well as the current supply and demand of rehabilitation services in the districts when planning the capacity and nature of various rehabilitation services, and the location for service provision.
     Regarding education, the Government adopts a "dual-track mode" to implement special education, under which students with more severe or multiple disabilities are referred to special schools by the Education Bureau (EDB) for intensive support services subject to the assessment and recommendation of specialists and their parents' consent. Other students with special educational needs will attend ordinary schools. EDB takes into consideration a number of factors when planning special education services. For example, when planning schools for children with intellectual disabilities, EDB will take into account past admission trend, the existing enrolment, the number of applicants on the waiting list, the population projections by district and age as well as the related education policies (such as implementation of the New Senior Secondary Academic Structure and adjustment of class sizes of special schools), etc. EDB has all along assessed the service needs and provided appropriate services for students in accordance with the above practices. At present, the supply of aided special school places is generally adequate.
     In planning the public healthcare services, manpower and number of beds in public hospitals, apart from the projected service demand and possible changes of utilisation pattern of healthcare service with regard to population growth and demographic change in various districts as worked out by C&SD and Planning Department, the Hospital Authority (HA) will take into account a number of factors, including healthcare manpower in various clusters and hospitals as well as service arrangement. HA will regularly monitor the utilisation and the trend of service demand for various healthcare services. Through service model revamp, implementation of hospital development programmes as well as other appropriate measures, HA will ensure that its service are capable of meeting the needs of citizens (including those with intellectual disability).
(2) and (3) Since the collection of PIDs' information involves the need to address certain sensitive, technical and complicated issues, including ascertaining whether the respondents understand the questions and whether they are willing and able to provide the required information, C&SD has no plan to collect such information in population censuses/by-censuses, for which a large number of enumerators are required. In particular, as most of these enumerators are students who have no work experience in this aspect, it will be difficult for them to acquire and master the necessary interviewing skills from basic training to discharge their duties. The Labour and Welfare Bureau is, in collaboration with C&SD and relevant government departments, exploring the feasibility of allowing C&SD to collate the administrative records of service users with intellectual disabilities maintained by relevant departments to provide extra reference materials for service planning, provided that the requirements of the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance (Cap. 486) can be complied with.
Ends/Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Issued at HKT 16:27
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