Speech by CE at Asia Summit on Global Health (English only) (with photos/video)
Deputy Director Yin Zonghua (Deputy Director of the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR)), Ms Margaret Fong (Executive Director of the Hong Kong Trade Development Council), distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
Good morning to you all. And good day to all of you joining online - from Hong Kong, throughout Asia and around the world. I am delighted to welcome you to the second Asia Summit on Global Health.
This year's theme, "Charting a New Course in Healthcare through Collaboration", reflects the lingering reality of COVID-19, the pandemic that has, for nearly three years now, shaken the world - our economies, our businesses and our communities.
The uncertainties posed by the once-in-a-century pandemic still run wide and deep around the globe. From the loss of loved ones to disruptions in supply chains, the ongoing pandemic has wreaked havoc to humanity at every level imaginable.
The difference in the capabilities of healthcare systems across different parts of the planet, be it the availability of vaccines or the adequacy of public hospital services, has also resulted in a disparity in prevention and treatment services available to different people.
For some of the prevalent COVID-19 strains, vaccination is an effective means of preventing severe and death cases among patients. But threats continue to exist with the emergence of other mutant strains, or even other viruses, old or new. Monkeypox and melioidosis are some immediate examples of diseases that cause local or even global concerns. The development of public health problems does, indeed, warrant a new course in healthcare for humanity.
Meanwhile, if the global reach of public health challenges has been distressing, it has also starkly underlined the importance of collaboration, also at every level.
More than just a slogan, the theme of today's summit, "collaboration", should serve as a pivotal strategy, the road to take, if we are to move, with speed and certainty, into recovery, and make our way towards a flourishing future.
That promising prospect has brought together some 21 000 business and academic leaders, investors, start-ups, policymakers and a world of healthcare professionals for this two-day Summit. And you have come to the right place for that prospect. Hong Kong is well known for its tenacity and adaptability in face of challenges.
In the next couple of minutes, I would like to share with you our three directions in charting the new course in healthcare through collaboration.
First, promoting innovation in public health. Innovation and technology (I&T) is at the heart of Hong Kong's policy priorities and our drive to create collaborative programmes and initiatives with our country and the larger world in order to tackle healthcare and other challenges.
It helps that five of our universities are ranked among the top 100 worldwide, and that our two medical schools are among the top 40 in the world. We are also home to respected clinical and research centres recognised by the National Medical Products Administration of China and regulatory bodies around the world, including those in the US (United States) and the EU (European Union).
We are the world's leading fundraising hub for biotech companies. Since the launch of a new listing regime in April 2018, more than 50 pre-revenue or pre-profit biotechnology companies have been listed in Hong Kong. They have, to date, raised some US$14.6 billion.
Alongside biotechnology, our life and health sector is thriving. The InnoHK Research Clusters at Hong Kong Science Park bring together more than 30 prominent universities and research institutes from 11 countries and economies. In collaboration with our local universities, they have set up 28 research laboratories, 16 of which focus on life and health technology.
That's just the beginning. We are investing some US$1.3 billion to promote life and health technology. That includes the establishment of an InnoLife Healthtech Hub in the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Innovation and Technology Park.
As announced in my Policy Address last month, we are setting aside an additional HK$10 billion, equivalent to US$1.3 billion, to launch a "Research, Academic and Industry Sectors One-plus Scheme" next year. It will fund at least 100 university research teams with the potential to become successful start-ups. Our goal is to encourage collaboration among the academic, research and industry sectors in the transformation and realisation of our strong R&D (research and development) outcomes.
Innovative technology is inspired, and brought to bright life, by talented professionals. That brings me to our second direction, which is about ensuring a sustainable drive of competitiveness.
Given our far-reaching ambitions in I&T, and its critical role in our future, Hong Kong needs the best from the world to ensure we stay on the top, in health and in other areas.
We shall establish the Office for Attracting Strategic Enterprises, which will come up with tailor-made facilitation measures for representative enterprises around the world to commence operation in Hong Kong.
Beginning in 2024, we will make use of land in the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Innovation and Technology Park, and HK$5 billion in funding, equivalent to some US$640 million, to attract notable companies and talent to Hong Kong. Our focus will be on such strategic industries as life and health technology.
We're also committed to supporting research in our higher education sector to boost Hong Kong's competitiveness.
In my Policy Address, I've promised to expand our funding for research positions at universities, boosting the number of publicly funded, postgraduate research places by almost 30 per cent over the next two years. Eventually, we target to have 35 per cent of our university students studying STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) subjects in the coming five years.
Our third direction, and perhaps the most important one, is restructuring our healthcare system. The Policy Address offers a wealth of healthcare initiatives to build a healthier Hong Kong.
At present, the healthcare system in Hong Kong focuses more on treatment than prevention. That will soon change. We will invest additional resources to promote primary healthcare, shifting our emphasis from a treatment-oriented, hospital-based system to one focused on prevention and the community.
A Primary Healthcare Blueprint will be published before year's end. District Health Centres will serve as the hub for primary healthcare services. We will partner with the private healthcare sector to promote a "family doctor for all" concept. That means working with healthcare professions to offer sustainable, people-centric primary healthcare services for the communities, and the people, of Hong Kong.
Chinese medicine is another priority. While Chinese medicine has long been part of Hong Kong's healthcare system, we will regularise integrated Chinese-Western medicine services, gradually expanding Chinese medicine's availability at our hospitals and in treatment.
We will promote the professional development of Chinese medicine practitioners, deepening our collaboration with the Mainland, particularly the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area.
Ladies and gentlemen, Hong Kong's health indicators - in such areas as infant mortality and life expectancy - are among the best in the world.
We want to keep it that way. And more. My Policy Address will strengthen support measures allowing our elderly to age in place. It will also set up 16 new neighbourhood elderly centres, offering enhanced service for them.
Despite our ageing population, despite the daunting challenges of providing quality, affordable and inclusive healthcare for all, I'm confident that, with an innovative and determined approach, we will meet these challenges.
It's much the same with COVID-19. Since taking office in July, my team and I have made substantive progress in lifting restrictions, while containing the number of confirmed cases and protecting the healthcare system and our high-risk population.
This includes cancelling the route-specific flight suspension mechanism, introducing the Red and Amber Codes for risk-based classification and management, and putting an end to the inbound compulsory hotel quarantine, a mechanism that had been in place for more than two years.
We will continue to identify room for lifting restrictions, in an orderly and progressive manner.
Let me put it another way. We are working on specific and dedicated plans to ensure major events and economic activities can be held smoothly, to open up Hong Kong - to bring a world of business back to Hong Kong - as quickly, and as safely, as we can. This Summit, as well as last week's Global Financial Leaders' Investment Summit and Fintech Week, are welcome examples.
Then there was the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens. It returned in a blaze of blessed glory, on and off the pitch, last weekend after an absence of three years. A total of 65 000 spectators have enjoyed an energetic weekend together. And the Sevens will be back again, I'm delighted to say, in just a few months.
My thanks to the Hong Kong Trade Development Council for organising this high-profile, two-day Summit in concert with the Hong Kong SAR Government. It is, let me add, the flagship event of the inaugural International Healthcare Week, which got going at the beginning of the month and continues through this weekend. Healthcare Week presents a variety of medical conferences, meetings and seminal events.
It includes, too, the 13th Hong Kong International Medical and Healthcare Fair, running alongside the Summit. The trade fair features more than 300 exhibitors and their innovative healthcare products and services from around the world. It's on show here at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre through tomorrow and online until November 18th.
On that note, I wish you all a very rewarding Summit, and the best of business, and healthcare, in the coming year. Thank you.
Ends/Thursday, November 10, 2022
Issued at HKT 10:36
Issued at HKT 10:36