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Speeches

Opening Remarks by SFH at

the Hong Kong Summit of Global Health Leaders

HKU Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine

to be held on 16 December 2017

Prof Gabriel LEUNG [ Dean of Medicine, HKU], Mr DUAN Yufei [Director General, Director General, Health and Family Planning Commission of Guangdong Province], Prof David HEYMANN [Head and Senior Fellow, Centre on Global Health Security, Chatham House], Prof CS LAU [Chairman, Asian Medical Education Association],distinguished guests, colleagues and friends, ladies and gentlemen,

             Good morning to you all.

             It is my great pleasure to join you at the Opening Ceremony of the Hong Kong Summit of Global Health Leaders jointly organized by the Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine of The University of Hong Kong, the Asian Medical Education Association and the Chatham House, The Royal Institute of International Affairs.

2.          I would like to heartily congratulate the HKU medical faculty on hosting this important event which has attracted some 30 speakers from overseas, Mainland China and Hong Kong.  I am sure this Summit will be a great opportunity for health leaders from all parts of the world to share personal insights and expertise for the betterment of global health outcomes.

3.          As the Secretary for Food and Health, to safeguard public health, provide quality medical services, ensure food safety and environmental hygiene are always top priorities on my agenda.  Let me take you through what we are doing to promote public health in Hong Kong.

4.          With a population of 7.4 million people, Hong Kong is blessed with one of the most efficient healthcare systems in the world.  Our impressive healthcare indicators in life expectancy and infant mortality bear testimony to this.    Hong Kong’s public health policy ensures that nobody will be denied basic healthcare services due to lack of means.  For those who wish and are able to afford, they can choose more personalized healthcare services in the private sector which has a sizable presence in the delivery of healthcare services and is the chief provider of ambulatory care. 

5.          However, similar to other developed economies, with people living longer and with increased episodes of illnesses, and impairments in later life, there are new challenges for our healthcare system and our healthcare professionals.  Our rapidly ageing population is particularly noteworthy.  It is estimated that by 2041, Hong Kong’s population will reach 8.5 million, with persons aged 65 or above accounting for 30% of the total population.  With an increasing demand for healthcare services, we need to explore ways to maintain the sustainability of our healthcare system.

Enhancement of Hardware Facilities

6.          The Government endeavors to upkeep the quality and efficiency of the healthcare services in Hong Kong.  In the coming five years, we will devote effort and allocate resources in a focused manner to improve our healthcare system and services. We shall press ahead with the delivery of the 10-year Public Hospital Development Plan, for which $200 billion has been earmarked and kick-start the next round of public hospital development planning in the coming five years.

Healthcare Manpower

7.          On healthcare manpower, we have completed the first territory-wide Strategic Review on Healthcare Manpower Planning and Professional Development and released the Report in June this year.  Recommendations have been proposed to lay the foundation for healthcare manpower planning and chart the course of development and regulation of healthcare professionals.  We will take forward the recommendations with continuous collaboration with the healthcare, social welfare and education sectors in the delivery of healthcare services.

Primary Healthcare

8.          While the Government is enhancing the public healthcare system, we have announced in the 2017 Policy Address our strong commitment to the development of primary healthcare in Hong Kong.  Being the first level of healthcare, primary healthcare embraces strong elements of health promotion, disease prevention, rehabilitation and maintenance of the health of chronic patients and the disabled. 

9.    Last month, we set up a steering committee on primary healthcare development to comprehensively review the existing planning of primary healthcare services and draw up a development blueprint.  Its work includes drawing up a model for district-based medical-social collaboration, using big data to identify areas of medical care services and establishing a framework to implement measures on disease prevention, screening and identification.

10.     The Food and Health Bureau will also set up a district health centre in Kwai Tsing district within two years with a view to enhancing public awareness of disease prevention and their capability in self-management of health through public-private partnership, providing support for the chronically ill and relieving the pressure on specialist and hospital services.  With the experience gained from the pilot scheme, we will progressively set up district health centres in other district. 

VHIS

11.        The Government will also implement the Voluntary Health Insurance Scheme (VHIS) to enable us to adjust the balance between the public and private healthcare sectors.  The objective of VHIS is to empower those citizens who are able and willing to use private healthcare services to do so.  The VHIS sets out a set of minimum requirements which aims to enhance the accessibility, quality and transparency of hospital insurance.  The Government also announced in the 2017-18 Budget that it would provide tax deduction for the purchase of health insurance plans that are compliant with VHIS.  More people will be encouraged to make use of private healthcare services. This, in turn, will allow the public healthcare sector to focus on servicing its target areas and benefit all citizens concerned. 

Regulation of Private Healthcare Facilities

12.        In tandem with the VHIS, we have to strengthen the regulatory regime for private healthcare facilities.  After extensive engagement with the public and other stakeholders, we have introduced the Private Healthcare Facilities Bill into the Legislative Council earlier this year.  The Bill will provide for a new regulatory regime covering four types of facilities (namely, hospitals, day procedure centres, clinics and health services establishments) operated by the private sector (including NGOs).  We hope that the Legislative Council could finish scrutinising the Bill earlier, so that we could put in place the new regulatory regime as soon as possible. 

13.        We are also promoting public-private partnerships (PPP) to achieve synergy between the public and private sectors.  We have launched a variety of PPP initiatives, such as cataract surgeries PPP programme, haemodialysis PPP programme and general outpatient clinic (GOPC) PPP programme for clinically stable patients having hypertension and diabetes.  The GOPC PPP Programme will be extended to all 18 districts in Hong Kong by phases starting from 2016-17.

One Belt One Road

14.       Besides enhancing our own healthcare system, we shall also look beyond Hong Kong and capitalise on the immense development opportunities offered by the One Belt One Road Initiative.  The Initiative covers five areas of connectivity, namely, policy co-ordination, facilities connectivity, unimpeded trade, financial integration and people-to-people bonds.  By leveraging this new platform and working closely with our counterparts in the Mainland and overseas, I am confident that Hong Kong’s talents, including our top-notch medical professionals, would be able to be fully engaged in the Belt and Road Initiative and reap many benefits.  In particular, our numerous strengths in the medical sector, including top-notch medical professionals and technologies, high quality medical training, rich experiences in building and running hospitals as well as development of world-recognised standards of traditional Chinese medicine would present immense growth opportunities for our medical practitioners in the One Belt One Road region.  The Hong Kong SAR Government will play the roles of being a “facilitator” and a “promoter” in the course of pursuing these development initiatives.

Conclusion

15.       Ladies and gentlemen, as health is the most important asset to every one of us, it is the responsibility for everyone to stay healthy.  The Hong Kong SAR Government has been and will continue to work closely with all stakeholders to promote public health in Hong Kong and overseas.  The programme for this Summit covers a wide range of discussions on the positioning of health professions and modelling of health systems.  I trust that all of would have inspiring exchanges on the topics at this Summit.  It is my great pleasure to declare the official opening of the Hong Kong Summit of Global Health Leaders and I wish the Summit every success.  Thank you.
W3C