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The Federation of Medical Societies of Hong Kong

Annual Dinner 2017 – Federation Galaxy

Remarks by the Secretary for Food and Health

31 December 2017

Dr (Mario) CHAK, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

Good evening.  It is my great pleasure to join you all at the New Year’s Eve to celebrate not only the New Year 2018 but also the Annual Dinner of The Federation of Medical Societies of Hong Kong. New Year is the time to reflect on the year that has gone by.  It is also the time to plan ahead and chart out new directions.  Ladies and gentlemen, let me take you through the major milestones of the development of the healthcare sector in 2017 and our ongoing plans and initiatives in the year ahead. 

2.          On 1 July 2017, the 5th term of the Hong Kong SAR Government was established and I was honoured to be appointed the Secretary for Food and Health.  While safeguarding public health, providing quality medical services and ensuring food safety and environmental hygiene remain top priorities on my health agenda, we announced the 2017 Policy Address on 11 October 2017, which set out, among other initiatives, our policy initiatives on enhancing our healthcare system.

Hardware Enhancement

3.          First of all, 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 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.

Primary Healthcare

4.          Besides strengthening public healthcare facilities, we have also 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.

5.    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.

6.     We shall 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 shall progressively set up district health centres in other districts. 

Healthcare Manpower

7.          On healthcare manpower, we released the Report on Strategic Review on Healthcare Manpower Planning and Professional Development in June this year.  Recommendations were proposed to lay the foundation for healthcare manpower planning.  As announced in the Policy Address, we shall employ all qualified local medical graduates and provide them with relevant specialist training.  We shall also take forward the recommendations with continuous collaboration with the healthcare, social welfare and education sectors in the delivery of healthcare services.  


8.          In addition, the Government will implement the Voluntary Health Insurance Scheme in 2018 and will amend tax legislation to offer tax incentives for the public who procure such health insurance products.  As more people will be encouraged to make use of private healthcare services, this, in turn, would allow the public healthcare sector to focus on servicing its target areas and benefit all citizens concerned. 

Regulation of Private Healthcare Facilities

9.          In tandem with the VHIS, we have introduced the Private Healthcare Facilities Bill into the Legislative Council earlier this year.  It will provide for a new regulatory regime covering hospitals, day procedure centres, clinics and health services establishments operated by the private sector.  We hope that LegCo could finish scrutinising the Bill earlier, so that we could put in place the new regulatory regime as soon as possible. 

Innovation and Technology

10.        What’s more, in the digital era, HA will also establish a Big Data Analytics Platform to identify useful information that will support the formulation of healthcare policies, facilitate biotech research and improve clinical and healthcare services.  We also set up a steering committee last month to lead the study on strategies for developing genomic medicine in Hong Kong.

Chinese Medicine

11.        We shall also proactively support the development of Chinese medicine, in particular the planning for the first Chinese medicine hospital at a site in Tsueng Kwan O. 

Concluding Remarks

12.       Ladies and gentlemen, the year ahead will be even busier and more challenging than 2017 as all of the initiatives I have just mentioned will be implemented in full steam.  The support of the Federation is definitely indispensable in helping the Government achieve all of these worthy goals.  For over half a century, the Federation has been devoting its efforts to the unity and fraternity of the local medical and health professions.  Its membership has grown from a humble dozen to the present over 120, representing more than 50 000 individual professionals from a wide spectrum of healthcare disciplines.  This enormous growth in membership and the extended representativeness are remarkable achievements that every organization should take pride in.  I encourage you all, being healthcare professionals, to continue to play a prominent role in the Government’s commitment to improve the lives of our seniors, our children, the underprivileged and others in the community. 

13.       My dear friends, New Year provides us with a fresh beginning to do better, to do more, to give more and to love more.    With the relentless support of dedicated institutions like the Federation and our strong team of over 100 000 professionals in the healthcare sector, I have every confidence that our healthcare system will continue to score.  I wish you all an enjoyable evening and a healthy and prosperous 2018!  Thank you.