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19th Diabetes and Cardiovascular Risk Factors –

East meets West Symposium

Speech for Secretary for Food and Health

1 October 2017

Dr Andrea LUK [Associate Professor, Department of Medicine and Therapeutics, Faculty of Medicine, The Chinese University of Hong Kong],
Dr Risa OZAKI [Honorary Clinical Associate Professor, Hong Kong Institute of Diabetes and Obesity, The Chinese University of Hong Kong],
Professor Ronald MA [Professor, Department of Medicine and Therapeutics, Faculty of Medicine, The Chinese University of Hong Kong],
Dr Alice KONG [Associate Professor, Department of Medicine and Therapeutics, Faculty of Medicine, The Chinese University of Hong Kong],
Professor Per-Henrik GROOP [Professor of Internal Medicine, University of Helsinki and Helsinki University Hospital, Finland],
Professor Rury HOLMAN [Professor of Diabetic Medicine, Oxford Centre for Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism, University of Oxford, United Kingdom],
Professor Alicia JENKINS [Professor, NHMRC Clinical Trijals Centre, Sydney Medical School, The University of Sydney, Australia],
distinguished speakers and guests, ladies and gentlemen,

                   Good morning.  It gives me great pleasure to join the 19th Diabetes and Cardiovascular Risk Factors – East meets West Symposium - today.  

2.                Similar to other developed economies, diabetes incidence has been on the rise in recent years in Hong Kong.  This would be further intensified due to our rapid aging population.  According to the latest figures released by the Census and Statistics Department, the number of elderly persons aged 65 and over will increase from 1.6 million in 2016 to 2.37 million in 2036.  This means that about one in three persons will be an elder in Hong Kong by 2036.  With further aging of our population, there would be an escalating demand for health services for diabetes and relevant cardiovascular diseases. 

3.                On the one hand, we are facing the daunting challenges of increasing service demand, and increasing morbidity and mortality arising from complication of poorly controlled diabetes.  On the other hand, advancement in the knowledge of the disease, and in the medical and information technology have provided us with new diagnostic means, medication, and treatment modalities to allow health care colleagues, patients and carers to manage the disease in a more effective an efficient manner.

4.                Correspondingly, an overall management strategy for diabetes has also evolved from the original “diagnose and treat approach” to a multiplicity strategy starting from prevention and health promotion. 

5.                First of all, we need to attach great importance to promoting a healthy lifestyle which includes healthy diet and adequate exercise on a community-wide basis.  In March 2015, we established the Committee on Reduction of Salt and Sugar in Food, which will make recommendations to the Government on specific policy directions and concrete work plans to reduce the intake of salt and sugar by the public.  Our target is to gradually reduce the intake of salt and sugars by Hong Kong citizens to the levels recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).

6.                At the same time, we also need to enhance public awareness of the prevention and management of endocrine diseases.  In December 2010, the Department of Health published the reference framework for diabetes care in primary healthcare setting which aims to provide common reference to healthcare professionals for the provision of continuing, comprehensive and evidence-based care for diabetic patients in the community.  In collaboration with the Hong Kong College of Family Physicians, a training program on chronic disease management has also been launched earlier to enhance the adoption of the reference framework on Diabetes and Hypertension in the private sector.  The reference framework with online and mobile application version also serves to raise public awareness of the importance of diabetes prevention and its proper management. 

7.                We note that WHO also selected the theme of beating diabetes for the World Health Day in April 2016.  To echo WHO’s initiative, the Department of Health launched a publicity and public education campaign last year with various government bureau, departments and supporting organisations to highlight to the public the importance of prevention and management of diabetes.

8.                Despite our efforts on health promotion, prevention and primary healthcare, there remains significant disease burden to be addressed at the secondary level medical services.  The Hospital Authority (HA) as the public healthcare service provider is strengthening its capacity of handling endocrine diseases.  HA has introduced a series of disease management measures including periodic diabetic complication assessment, streamlining the care of adolescents with complex endocrine diseases, and enhancing the drug formulary for the treatment of endocrine diseases.  There is also a need to further enhance postgraduate and subspecialty training in various areas of the discipline of endocrinology and for the health management of diseases, such as diabetes, thyroid diseases, obesity, and other cardiovascular diseases. 

9.                The specific need to enhance the interface of primary and secondary level disease management has also been identified in recent years as a matter of priority.  In this regard, hospitals in both public and private sectors are increasingly employing a FM or nurse lead model in the management and empowerment of diabetic patients.  HA has also rolled out the public-private partnership scheme with community based primary care to manage stable patients with hypertension and diabetes.

10.              After all, we consider that concerted efforts from experts locally and internationally would be essential to address these challenges.  I am very pleased that the annual East meets West Symposium provides an excellent platform through which medical professionals can come together to share the latest developments of combating diabetes and other cardiovascular diseases.  The Symposium also includes a lay programme with activities such as seminars, yoga performance, cooking demonstrations and games to enhance the public’s awareness of the disease. 

11.              Before closing, I believe that our local participants are aware of the establishment of the new government term on 1 July 2017.  As the Secretary for Food and Health, to safeguard public health, provide quality medical services, ensure food safety and environmental hygiene as well as assisting the sustainable development of fishery and agriculture will be top priorities on my agenda.  My team and I will continue to work hard for the betterment of Hong Kong.

12.              I wish you good health and a rewarding Symposium. Thank you.