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LCQ18: Provision of anti-epidemic drugs to Mainland
     Following is a question by the Hon Chan Pui-leung and a written reply by the Secretary for Health, Professor Lo Chung-mau, in the Legislative Council today (January 11):
     During the period when the fifth wave of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 epidemic was severe, the Central People's Government (CPG) donated a large amount of anti-epidemic drugs to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government to assist Hong Kong in fighting the epidemic. It has been reported that since the Mainland adjusted its epidemic prevention and control measures, situations such as a shortage and an interruption to the supply of drugs as well as a run on medical resources have arisen on the Mainland. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) of the following information on the anti-epidemic drugs donated by CPG and various local governments to the HKSAR Government since the outbreak of the epidemic: names, efficacy, quantities, situation on the usage and remaining quantities;
(2) as it has been reported that quite a number of members of the public have procured drugs from pharmacies in Hong Kong and sent them to the Mainland for use by relatives and friends, of the current stock situation of anti-epidemic drugs (including those procured by the HKSAR Government and donated by CPG) in Hong Kong; whether the HKSAR Government will consider, while ensuring that its medical supplies are sufficient, allocating some of the anti-epidemic drugs to the Mainland Government; and
(3) whether the HKSAR Government will take the initiative to help and support the Mainland Government to procure anti-epidemic drugs through various channels, so as to alleviate the current situation of shortage of drugs on the Mainland, fight the epidemic together and demonstrate the commitment of the HKSAR; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
     In consultation with the Hospital Authority (HA), the reply to the various parts of the question raised by the Hon Chan Pui-leung is as follows:
     The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government has been closely monitoring the development of the epidemic situation as well as the provision of medical supplies in Hong Kong (including medication and proprietary Chinese medicines (pCms)), and making arrangements to purchase and stockpile relevant supplies to meet the actual needs of society. Earlier, at the peak of the fifth wave of the epidemic (i.e. the end of the first quarter and the beginning of the second quarter of last year), HKSAR received full support from the Central People's Government on anti-epidemic work, including donation of medical supplies by the Central People's Government as well as co-ordination from the Central People's Government for the HKSAR to procure medical supplies in the Mainland.
     As regards pCms, the Central People's Government donated some anti-epidemic pCms including "Lianhua Qingwen Jiaonang", "Jinhua Qinggan Keli" and "Huoxiang Zhengqi Pian/Jiaonang", and provided full support to the HKSAR Government in the larger-scale procurement process. The HKSAR Government has distributed all of the pCms donated or procured via the above-mentioned channels to persons in need, including anti-epidemic service bags distributed to the public, anti-epidemic kits for isolated persons, as well as through restriction-testing declaration operations, Chinese Medicine Clinics cum Training and Research Centres, Chinese medicine sector and community organisations, etc. to persons of various sectors.
     In terms of medication, the HKSAR Government has procured medication containing paracetamol through the above-mentioned channels, and has been continuously distributing them to those in need through various departments. For example, the HA has been providing the medication to patients in need, and the Department of Health (DH), etc. has been distributing anti-epidemic kits (with paracetamol included) to infected persons in home isolation.
     Currently, there is enough stockpile of medication containing paracetamol in the public healthcare system (including the HA and the DH) for local use. The public healthcare system currently maintains a stockpile of the relevant medication for five to six months of normal daily use, which is sufficient for the public healthcare system to cater for the needs of its patients. However, in view of the recent sharp increase in the demand for relevant medication for relief of pain and fever in the market, the Government is planning to press ahead the procurement of a considerable amount of the relevant medication for reserve, in addition to continuing to maintain the stockpile of the relevant medication in the public healthcare system. Through that special drug reserve and having regard to the actual situation and needs, the Government can consider to offer targeted support to private healthcare facilities to provide sufficient medication for their patients, as well as reserve some of the medication for members of the public in need but have not received public healthcare services, such as low-income families who may not be able to afford medication expenses.
     The HKSAR Government has all along kept in close contact with relevant units regarding the latest development of the epidemic situation in neighbouring regions including the Mainland and Macao. In response to requests for support made by the relevant units on epidemic prevention and control, including vaccines, medication or other supplies, the HKSAR Government will make every effort to provide assistance within our capabilities.
Ends/Wednesday, January 11, 2023
Issued at HKT 15:00
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