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LCQ1: Developing traditional Chinese medicine to complement national plan
     Following is a question by the Hon Kingsley Wong and a reply by the Secretary for Food and Health, Professor Sophia Chan, in the Legislative Council today (June 8):


     The Development Plan for Traditional Chinese Medicine during the 14th Five-Year Plan Period (the Plan), which was promulgated by the General Office of the State Council on March 3 this year, clearly makes a comprehensive deployment for the work of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). On developing TCM to complement the national plan, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) whether it has compiled statistics on TCM treatment during the coronavirus disease 2019 epidemic (including the number of patients who have received TCM treatment in the Chinese Medicine Clinics cum Training and Research Centres (CMCTRs), community treatment facilities and the North Lantau Hospital Hong Kong Infection Control Centre, as well as through the Chinese Medicine Services for Residential Care Homes for the Elderly programme), and whether it has studied the effectiveness of such treatment method; if so, of the details; if not, whether the Government will compile statistics and conduct studies in a comprehensive manner, so as to tie in with the objective of enhancing the ability of TCM to participate in the prevention and treatment of emerging infectious diseases and respond to public health emergencies as set out in the Plan;

(2) whether it will, by drawing reference from the Plan, set indicators for the development of TCM in Hong Kong, including raising the proportion of TCM personnel in the public healthcare system, increasing the number of beds in Chinese medicine hospitals, establishing TCM departments in public hospitals, as well as increasing the number of CMCTRs; if so, of the details; if not, whether it will consider setting relevant indicators to promote the development of TCM; and

(3) given that the Plan proposes to "strengthen exchanges and co-operation with the Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan regions in the area of TCM", whether the Chinese Medicine Unit under the Food and Health Bureau has plans to invite TCM experts from the Mainland to come to Hong Kong for exchanges with local TCM and Western medicine practitioners, or to operate hospitals in Hong Kong jointly with renowned TCM hospitals on the Mainland, so as to bring in the Mainland's experience in the performance of integrated Chinese and Western medicine treatment, thereby promoting the development of TCM in Hong Kong?



     My reply to the various parts of the question raised by the Hon Kingsley Wong is as follows:

(1) During the COVID-19 epidemic, with the facilitation and support of the Food and Health Bureau (FHB), Chinese medicine (CM) has played an important role through in-depth participation in the whole process of epidemic prevention, treatment and rehabilitation, in particular in the multi-tiered triage treatment system.

     The Hospital Authority (HA) has been implementing the Special CM Programme for COVID-19 In-patients at the Treatment Centre for COVID-19 (AsiaWorld-Expo) (formerly known as community treatment facility) and the North Lantau Hospital Hong Kong Infection Control Centre since 2021 to enable CM intervention as early as possible in allowing integrated Chinese-Western medicine (ICWM) to give full play to its strengths in anti-epidemic treatment. Earlier, the Mainland medical support team has also assisted the HA to further enhance the mode of service delivery. Over 530 patients have participated in the programme so far, with over 2 900 consultations conducted. The HA also assisted the Government in distributing anti-epidemic proprietary Chinese medicines to persons in community isolation facilities, and provide CM advice services.

     In light of the severe impact of the fifth wave of epidemic to residential care homes for the elderly (RCHEs), the HA speedily took the lead in mobilising community CM service providers to participate in the CM Services for RCHE programme, to provide telemedicine or outreach CM services to infected residents of RCHEs. The service concerned has been further expanded to cover rehabilitation consultations, such that recovered residents can receive treatment at the RCHEs. Over 240 RCHEs have joined the programme, with over 10 600 consultations conducted.

     Having regard to the significant advantages of CM in rehabilitation, the HA launched in 2020 the Special CM Out-patient Programme for COVID-19 infected persons to provide rehabilitation services to infected patients to treat sequelae with CM through the Chinese Medicine Clinics cum Training and Research Centres (CMCTRs) in the 18 districts. Over 31 900 recovered patients have joined the programme with over 102 200 consultations conducted. The HA has also collaborated with the Schools of CM of universities and the CMCTRs in launching an observational study to collect and analyse clinical data, with results to be published within this year.

     Furthermore, the Government, through the Chinese Medicine Development Fund, has been encouraging the CM sector to initiate training, promotion and research projects in relation to the COVID-19 epidemic, and has been expediting the processing of the relevant applications.

(2) and (3) The Government has all along been promoting the development of CM in Hong Kong. Further to the reaffirming of the positioning of CM in the development of Hong Kong's healthcare system in the 2018 Policy Address, we have been working on various fronts in a progressive manner.

     We have incorporated CM into the healthcare system through the Government subsidising defined CM services, which include three areas. Firstly, the 18 CMCTRs, which operate on a tripartite collaboration model, have been providing government-subsidised out-patient services since 2020, while continuing to provide a variety of CM service choices to the public. Secondly, the HA has been providing government-subsidised ICWM treatment services to HA in-patients of selected disease areas. The HA will continue to explore enhancing the services concerned by increasing the number of participating hospitals and selected diseases areas, as well as exploring the regularisation of the services concerned. Thirdly, the construction work and preparatory work for commissioning of Hong Kong's first Chinese Medicine Hospital (CMH) has been launched, with a view to commencing services by phases starting from mid-2025. The CMH will provide government-subsidised in-patient and out-patient services in future.

     The aforementioned three components are complementary in terms of service scope, which will provide a comprehensive network for the delivery of government-subsidised CM services. The Government will continue to allocate more resources to promote the development of CM services, timely review and continue to enhance the services concerned.

     Hong Kong has been backed by the motherland since the return thereto, and has received support and guidance in various fronts from the relevant Mainland ministries/commissions and experts. Under the direction of the National 14th Five-Year Plan, we have been actively strengthening Hong Kong's role under the blueprint set out in the Construction Plan for the Chinese Medicine Highlands in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (2020-2025). Among others, Mainland public CM healthcare institutions, as pilot sites, started to recruit Hong Kong Chinese medicine practitioners (CMPs) in 2021, enabling them to further their practice within the national healthcare system and nurturing more clinical CM talents for Hong Kong.

     As regards the development of Hong Kong's CMH, the National Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine (NATCM) nominated six Mainland experts as planning expert advisors early as in 2018. The future CMH will become an important member of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area CM consortium and CMH community and will closely collaborate with Mainland CM institutions.

     The CMCTRs in the 18 districts have all along been promoting the training for local CM talents. Among others, the HA, through the CM training scholarship programmes, provides opportunities for CMPs to receive training and accumulate clinical experience at CMHs in the Mainland. The HA will continue to enhance the training programme provided to CMPs of different ranks, and strengthen the exchanges and co-operation with the Mainland.

     Furthermore, the FHB has signed the Cooperation Agreement on the Training of Advanced Clinical Talents in Chinese Medicine with the NATCM, with a view to providing systematic training for young CMPs with higher qualifications, enabling them to become high-level backbone talents of CM theories and clinical practice. Although the work progress has been somewhat affected by the epidemic, the Government will take forward the relevant programmes as soon as the epidemic situation permits.

     The Government will continue to closely collaborate with stakeholders of the CM sector to further widen the use and application of CM in Hong Kong, with a view to promoting the long-term development of CM in Hong Kong. Thank you, President.
Ends/Wednesday, June 8, 2022
Issued at HKT 15:30
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