The new government has become operational in July this year and many new secretaries have been appointed to their positions. The DAB met with the Secretary for Food and Health Prof. Sophia Chan on the afternoon of 3rd October to interact with her and give advice on policy objectives of the Food and Health Bureau (“the Bureau”). The meeting was co-chaired by our Food Safety spokesperson Steven Ho and Health Services spokesperson Ben Chan. At the start of the meeting, the DAB gave our proposals for the Bureau to Prof. Chan.
Steven Ho pointed out that in regards to environmental hygiene policy, currently Hong Kong has major issues with public hygiene as streets are full of garbage bags and other such refuse. He said that the upcoming implementation arrangement for municipal solid waste charging will worsen the situation. In facing the situation thus described, Steven Ho especially emphasized that the government must improve its outsourced service contactors as soon as possible and set up an outsourcing mechanism that emphasizes quality. The government should also proactively promote the use of cleaning technology to help keep the streets clean and therefore comprehensively improve the quality of municipal cleaning services. This advice was well received by Prof. Chan. Also, Ben Chan noted that Hong Kong has many hygiene “black spots” stuck within various districts that really affects the cleanliness of the area. These black spots have even started to create rat and mosquito infestations. Ben Chan proposed that the government should set up a research subcommittee to find out how to improve its environmental hygiene policy, and this work should include strengthening the ability of the District Councils to monitor the outsourced cleaning work and guarantee the quality of the cleaning services in each district.
In regards to health care policy, Ben Chan expressed that the health care policy of Hong Kong has many areas it can improve. For example, this includes the long waiting times for clinics and the Accident and Emergency (A&E) services during the daytime and also the severe shortage of nighttime medical personnel. The government should quickly marshal resources and manpower and solve these problems proactively. Also, seeing as the increasing demand for Chinese medicine and dentists day by day, Ben Chan proposed that the government should implement public Chinese medicine and dental services as soon as possible and quickly implement and build a Chinese Medicine Hospital. This way we can respond to the needs of society for such services and protect the health of Hong Kong residents.
Finally, Ben Chan and DAB Legislative Councilor Elizabeth Quat pointed out to Prof. Chan that policies targeting rare diseases in Hong Kong are lagging far behind other places worldwide and in our region. The government should quickly increase its support for patients who suffer from rare diseases and their family members, which includes offering an official definition of what rare diseases are and setting up a centralised database. Such actions will help to develop relevant policies, and help put medicines for rare diseases and expensive cancer treatments in the Drug Formulary, so as to provide patients with treatments proven to be safe, efficacious and appropriate.
Media Inquiries: DAB Spokesperson on Food Safety and Environmental Hygiene Steven Ho (2682 0155)
DAB Spokesperson on Health Services Ben Chan (9274 7035)