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Hong Kong College of Paediatricans

The 13th Congress of Asian Society for Pediatric Research

Opening Speech by

Secretary for Food and Health

6 October 2017

Professor LAU (Yu-lung), distinguished guests and speakers, ladies and gentlemen,

                   It gives me great pleasure to join you all this morning at the Opening of the 13th Congress of Asian Society for Pediatric Research.  I would like to first extend a very warm welcome to all of you, especially those who come from afar.  I wish you an enjoyable stay in Hong Kong.

2.                Children are the future of our society.  It is important that their health and wellness be duly taken care of to allow them to develop their potential to the full without being hampered by poor health.  In this connection, paediatrics plays a significant role in the healthcare sector.  Paediatricians provide comprehensive medical care to children from infancy through young adults.  Besides offering treatment to children with various ailments or disorders and monitoring their physical and mental growth, paediatricians nowadays also work closely with nurses and other healthcare professionals to educate and guide parents on the importance of disease prevention, healthy diet, hygiene and regular check-ups for children.

3.                The Hong Kong SAR Government has all along attached great importance to the provision of paediatric services in Hong Kong.  The 31 Maternal and Child Health Centres offer a comprehensive range of health promotion and disease prevention services to children in Hong Kong.  The major categories of services include health and developmental surveillance, vaccination services,   parenting programmes and comprehensive child development service for early identification of the varied needs of children and their families.  Our Department of Health has also organized training for disseminated health education materials to community medical practitioners, nurses, relevant health professionals, social workers and preschool educators to facilitate their delivery of service in advising and guiding parents on child health issues.

4.                The establishment of the Hong Kong Children’s Hospital has marked another milestone of our enhancement of  paediatric services in Hong Kong.  The new hospital is set to be completed within this year for service commissioning by phases starting 2018, providing services including paediatric oncology, cardiology, nephrology, surgical and intensive care, as well as radiology, pathology and anaesthesia services at the initial phase.  Clinical genetics services will also be developed in the new hospital.

5.                The Hong Kong Children's Hospital will operate through a hub-and-spoke model and taking the role as the key player of the whole paediatric services network, responsible for planning, coordinating and leading the paediatric services in the public healthcare system of Hong Kong.  It will also serve as a tertiary referral centre for complex, serious and rare cases, while the paediatric departments in other public hospitals will provide emergency, secondary, step-down and community paediatric care.

The new hospital will also be an ideal platform for specialist and post-fellowship training of medical professionals in paediatrics and related specialties.

6.                On research side, the HKSAR Government has long supported a wide range of local health and medical research, as well as health promotion projects.  Paediatrics is indeed one of the key research areas under the thematic priority for investigator-initiated research of the annual Health and Medical Research Fund open calls.

7.                Since 2004, we have funded 92 research projects worth over HK$60 million specifically on children’s health issues, including cancer, infections, mental health, cardiovascular diseases, neurological disorders such as autism, obesity, physical activity, diet and nutrition, tobacco and alcohol use.  Many of these studies have informed healthcare professionals and key stakeholders on a wide range of health issues. Examples include better understanding of the epidemiology and effectiveness of interventions against infectious diseases such as influenza, rotavirus and pneumococcal infections, factors affecting the uptake of vaccination, beneficial impact of breastfeeding on reduction of hospitalization, novel interventions to manage various neurological, musculoskeletal and immunological diseases, community programmes to enhance physical activity, and to reduce exposure to secondhand smoking. 

8.                In future, we would continue our support on research and development against various paediatric diseases and improving the health outcomes and quality of healthcare for our community.  Our ultimate goal is to see that the research findings are used to inform health policy and can be translated into more effective and efficient medical and health services for the benefit of our children in Hong Kong.

9.             I would like to thank the Hong Kong College of Paediatricans for hosting this Congress which provides an excellent platform for local and overseas delegates to share their experiences in a wide range of topics such as neonatal care, infectious diseases, medical genetics, common nutritional disorders as well as nursing practice and training.  I wish the Congress every success and all of you a fruitful and rewarding experience.

10.   Last but not least, the new term of the Hong Kong SAR Government was established 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.  Thank you.