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Speech by Secretary for Health at Primary Healthcare Blueprint Symposium (English only)
     Following is the speech by the Secretary for Health, Professor Lo Chung-mau, at the Primary Healthcare Blueprint Symposium today (January 15):
Professor Rosie Young (Honorary University Fellow of the University of Hong Kong), Dr Ko Wing-man (Non-official Member of the Executive Council and former Secretary for Food and Health), Professor E K Yeoh (former Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food Professor Yeoh Eng-kiong), Dr York Chow (former Secretary for Food and Health), Professor Sophia Chan (former Secretary for Food and Health), distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
     Good morning. Thank you very much for coming to the Primary Healthcare Blueprint Symposium. I am so glad that, now that we are getting back to normalcy, we see such a great turn-up in this Symposium this morning. We are able to meet each other face to face to discuss this very important topic. Since the Government launched the Primary Healthcare Blueprint last month, I am very delighted that we have received overwhelming response and support from our healthcare professionals, including many of you here in the audience. You all share our vision and mission of strengthening primary healthcare to shift the focus from hospital-based disease treatment to community-based disease prevention in order to improve the health and quality of life of our citizens, to provide accessible and coherent healthcare services, and to establish a more sustainable healthcare system.

      As captured by the theme of the Symposium, "Reform On The Road", this major reform of our healthcare system is actually on the road for quite a while, and the journey actually started three decades ago. Back in the 1990s, Professor Rosie Young, who is in the audience, with the members of the Working Party on Primary Health Care, with a vision to building up an effective healthcare system, set out the first roadmap for primary healthcare in Hong Kong. The Report affirms the importance of primary healthcare and has actually guided the development of later policies. Many of its recommendations are still adopted today. In the successive healthcare reform consultations, including, for example, the one named "Your Health, Your Life" Consultation Document on Healthcare Reform in 2008 by Dr York Chow. Enhancement of primary healthcare has been a common theme and key consensus. In particular, there is a consistent emphasis on the urgency and importance to foster primary healthcare because of a rapidly ageing population. With the increasing demand for healthcare services and the overstretched public sector, there is a need for more strategic and effective use of private healthcare services through increasing the scope of public-private collaboration. On this, Professor E K Yeoh's research report on "Strategic Purchasing: Enabling Health for All" in 2021 was most timely and actually very conducive to our development of the Blueprint.
     For the last three years, the COVID-19 epidemic has presented exceptional challenges to public health authorities around the world, and Hong Kong is no exception. The epidemic actually further accentuated the importance of a robust community-based primary healthcare system. The need for reform is crystal clear and imminent. The reform is not just on a road. It must be on a highway.
     With the unfailing support from our Steering Committee on Primary Healthcare Development and the hard work by my predecessors, Dr Ko Wing-man and Professor Sophia Chan, the Government launched the Primary Healthcare Blueprint on December 19, 2022. The Blueprint sets out our vision, the recommendations and implementation plans, and outlines a strategic roadmap for the future development of primary healthcare in Hong Kong. The Blueprint puts forward five major directions of primary healthcare reform, including first of all developing a community-based primary healthcare system; second, strengthening primary healthcare governance; third, consolidating primary healthcare resources; fourth, reinforcing primary healthcare manpower, and finally, improving data connectivity and health surveillance.
     Following the launch of the Primary Healthcare Blueprint, this Symposium signifies our commitment to take forward the important initiatives through sharing of valuable experiences and views with private and public sectors on the advancement of primary healthcare service delivery. We are grateful to mark this very important milestone with vast contribution from former healthcare leaders and our recent partners. In a few minutes, our pioneers of healthcare development of Hong Kong will share with us their insights on the key areas of recommendations put forward in the Blueprint. I believe we will all benefit from this intellectual exchange of ideas and suggestions in going forward. I call upon everyone, in particular our healthcare experts, to offer your views more generously in today's symposium.
     Ladies and gentlemen, I wish the symposium every success. I am sure you will all enjoy a very enlightening morning. Finally, let us join hand in hand to make sure that we can build a healthier Hong Kong. Thank you.
Ends/Sunday, January 15, 2023
Issued at HKT 13:03
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