SFH chairs 13th meeting of Steering Committee on Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases to summarise work results (with photos)
The Secretary for Food and Health (SFH), Professor Sophia Chan, said, "In 2020, the major NCD, namely cancers, cardiovascular diseases (including heart diseases and stroke), diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases accounted for about 55 per cent of all registered deaths. With the growing and ageing population, the burden imposed by NCD on Hong Kong will continue to increase. In May 2018, the Government promulgated the SAP, which defines nine local targets, with a view to reducing the burden posed by NCD on Hong Kong by 2025. The targets include reduction of pre-mature deaths as a result of NCD, reduction of risk factors for NCD (including salt intake, tobacco use, consumption of alcohol, insufficient physical activity, high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity), and strengthening of the healthcare system to enhance the management of NCD. Over the last four years, the DH, the HA and relevant organisations have all along been actively implementing various items of relevant work and made good progress and progressively attained results in order to achieve staged targets.
At the meeting, members also discussed the progress of the prevention and control of NCD:
In order to strengthen the surveillance of NCD, the DH in general conducts the Population Health Survey (PHS) every four to six years, supplemented by Health Behaviour Surveys conducted on a regular basis, in order to collect information on the health status of the local population. The DH is now analysing the data recently collected through the PHS, and will release the result in a timely manner.
The DH has all along been promoting a healthy lifestyle as the primary strategy for prevention of NCD. The DH encourages members of the public to engage in more physical activities and be alert about the alcohol-related harm through various channels including websites, Announcements in the Public Interest (API), promotional posters on public transport, television, radio, social media. Furthermore, the DH also promotes healthy diet through schools and restaurants.
The “EatSmart@restaurant.hk” Campaign (ESR Campaign), launched by the DH in 2008, aims to create a healthy eating environment to enable members of the public to savour healthier dishes (i.e. with less oil, less salt, less sugar and more fruit and vegetables) when dining out. In 2019, the DH enhanced the ESR Campaign as the “EatSmart Restaurant Star+” Campaign , to enlist more restaurants to join and provide a greater variety of healthier dishes. As at May 31, 2022, more than 970 restaurants have joined the Campaign.
As regards legislation, the Dutiable Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance 2018 came into effect on November 30, 2018 to prohibit the sale and supply of intoxicating liquor to minors under 18 years old in the course of business. Besides, through concerted efforts of the FHB, the DH, the Hong Kong Council on Smoking and Health, medical sector and stakeholders, the Smoking (Public Health) (Amendment) Ordinance 2021 has been implemented since April 30, 2022 to prohibit the import, promotion, manufacture, sale, and possession for commercial purposes of alternative smoking products. In fact, the latest smoking prevalence rate in Hong Kong has dropped to 9.5 per cent.
Partially hydrogenated oils (PHO) are the main source of industrially-produced trans fatty acids (IP-TFA). In order to eliminate food safety risks associated with the consumption of IP-TFA at source, the FHB and the FEHD, with reference to the recommendation of the World Health Organization (WHO), introduced the Harmful Substances in Food (Amendment) Regulation 2021 (Amendment Regulation) to the Legislative Council in June 2021 to specify PHO as a prohibited substance in food. The Amendment Regulation was passed accordingly and will take effect from December 1, 2023. The Amendment Regulation enables Hong Kong to meet the WHO's goal of eliminating IP-TFA from the global food supply by 2023 and is one of the key measures set forth under the SAP.
The FHB has been working with the Committee on Reduction of Salt and Sugar in Food (CRSS) to promote less-salt-and-sugar dietary culture at various levels, with a particular emphasis on encouraging school children to foster such habit at an early age. In the 2021/22 school year, a gesture detection IT game on salt and sugar reduction was successfully put on trial in schools, and less-salt-and-sugar cooking class were also conducted on a trial basis in collaboration with a primary school. In addition, the Centre for Food Safety has developed a voice-navigated PowerPoint presentation for schoolchildren to encourage them to nurture a less-salt-and-sugar diet from young. As for the trade, the CRSS continues to encourage restaurants to reduce the use of salt and sugar in cooking and support the food manufacturers in product reformulation. Launched since 2020, the Less Sugar Friday Campaign has attracted more than 120 teahouses to participate. On public education front, apart from continuing to disseminate salt and sugar reduction messages through various channels, the CRSS in collaboration with the Radio Television Hong Kong for the first time, has disseminated a series of less-salt-and-sugar healthy messages broadcast through different channels.
In terms of cancers control, the DH has strengthened public education related to cancers and raised public awareness of cancer prevention and screening, including two APIs promoting breast health awareness and breast cancer prevention in 2021, and another API rolled out in 2022 to publicise cervical cancer screening. In addition, the DH has produced health information on the prevention and screening of cervical and breast cancers in at least six languages (including Hindi, Nepali, Urdu, Thai, Bahasa Indonesia and Tagalog) for ethnic minorities.
The DH has been subsidising asymptomatic Hong Kong residents aged between 50 and 75 to undergo colorectal cancer screening since January 2020, and providing breast cancer screening services through a pilot programme for eligible women aged between 44 and 69 in phases since September 2021 according to the recommendations of the Cancer Expert Working Group on Cancer Prevention and Screening. Starting from the 2019/20 school year, the DH has been providing the human papillomavirus (also known as HPV) vaccination services at schools to Primary 5 and 6 female students under the Hong Kong Childhood Immunisation Programme as a public health strategy to prevent cervical cancer. As at end of December last year, the vaccination rates of the first dose and the second dose of Primary 5 and 6 female students are 88 per cent and 86 per cent respectively in 2020/21 school year.
The Government is determined to build a prevention-centred primary healthcare system. The District Health Centres (DHC) and DHC Expresses across 14 districts in the city have commenced services progressively, and the DHCs in the remaining four districts will also commence operation within this year in stages. Through medical-social collaboration and public-private partnership, DHCs and DHC Expresses provide primary disease prevention programmes, such as cooking demonstration classes promoting health diet, exercise classes, smoking cessation counselling and support, promotion of not consuming alcohol, weight management, risk factor assessments for hypertension, screening for hypertension and diabetes mellitus, as well as corresponding chronic disease management programme.
Professor Chan said, "I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the members of the Steering Committee for their time and efforts over the past years in formulating the SAP, monitoring the implementation progress of the relevant measures, as well as providing valuable advice. Looking ahead, with the Government’s proactive efforts to build up the primary healthcare system, I truly believe that it can provide better and more favourable conditions for prevention and control of NCD. Successful prevention and control of NCD relies on the concerted efforts of various stakeholders including academia, non-governmental organisations, private sector and individuals. We urge everyone to continue to support the SAP and join hands to make Hong Kong a healthier city."
The Government has launched a strategic framework in 2008 to prevent and control NCD, and set up a high-level Steering Committee, chaired by the SFH and comprising the representatives of the Government, public and private sectors, academia, professional bodies, trade and other key partners. The Steering Committee steers the direction of work on NCD prevention and control in accordance with the WHO's "Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of NCD 2013-2020" to advise, oversee and monitor the implementation progress of the SAP.
Ends/Monday, June 20, 2022
Issued at HKT 20:23
Issued at HKT 20:23