A Regional Disease Control Centre: Prospects and Challenges
Medical representatives from the government, Legco and academia, gathered May 22 to discuss the need for the establishment of a regional disease surveillance centre in the territory to tackle the spread of infectious disease. The forum, "Lifting Hong Kong's Regional Status: The Establishment of a Regional Disease Surveillance Centre," was organized by CityU's APEC Study Centre.
"SARS has taught us that the spread of infectious disease has no geographical boundaries," said Professor Leung Ping Chung of Prince of Wales Hospital and the
Dr Lo Wing-lok, a Legislative Councilor, was also in full support of setting up a regional centre. He noted that Hong Kong has always been a focal point in many respects as hundreds of thousands of people come in and out of Hong Kong every day. "This brings us not only wealth and expertise, but also disease. Because of this, we need very good communication with our neighbours and with the world, so that we can be better prepared for infectious disease and minimize its impact on
A government expert in infectious disease, Dr Thomas Tsang, Consultant in the Disease Prevention & Control Division of the HKSAR's Department of Health, recognized the increasing threats of infectious disease in the region. Apart from SARS, there is influenza A (H5N1), entrovirus 71, nipah virus, and dengue fever, among others. If a surveillance centre is to be set up, Dr Tsang suggested that its main tasks should include: strengthening the surveillance and response to infectious disease; implementing, supporting and evaluating programmes for the prevention and control of infectious disease; making guidelines and recommendations for government and the public; and providing training to develop expertise. Dr Tsang, trained for two years in the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the
Dr Xu Ruiheng, Vice Director of Guangdong Province's Disease Control Centre, praised
Drawing the forum to an close, Dr Lo reminded the audience that a disease surveillance centre alone will not help prevent or control the spread of infectious disease adequately. "The government should also strive to improve Hong Kong's public health in addition to building a strong hospital system. It is the foundation part in this regard."
The forum was chaired by Professor Y S Wong, CityU's Vice-President (Administration), and moderated by Dr Li Kui Wai, Coordinator of APEC Study Centre and Associate Professor in the Department of Economics and Finance. The objective of the APEC Study Center is to organize APEC-related scholarly activities with the aim of promoting further understanding among APEC peoples.