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Press Release

Centre for Health Protection set off to protect public health

May 31, 2004

The protection of public health in Hong Kong will be further enhanced following the launch of the Centre for Health Protection (CHP) tomorrow (June 1).

The CHP was set up by the Government under the recommendations from the SARS Expert Committee Report to strengthen its capacity to prevent and control communicable diseases.

Established under the Department of Health and bearing the mission of achieving effective prevention and control of diseases in Hong Kong in collaboration with major local and international stakeholders, the CHP's ultimate vision is to become a centre of excellence in disease prevention and control.

Taking into account overseas experience, the health needs and circumstances of the local population and the relevant recommendations of the SARS Expert Committee, six functional branches have been set up in the CHP, namely Surveillance and Epidemiology Branch; Infection Control Branch; Emergency Response and Information Branch; Public Health Services Branch; Public Health Laboratory Services Branch and; Programme Management & Professional Development Branch.

Through an in-depth analysis of the existing health protection system, the focus of the CHP will be on epidemiology training, surveillance, risk communication, research, coordination and preparedness and contingency planning.

The key functions of the CHP comprise:

  • Conduct comprehensive public health surveillance on communicable diseases;
  • Develop strategies for the effective control of communicable diseases;
  • Develop strategies for risk communication;
  • Establish partnerships with the health care professions; community, academics, government departments, national and international authorities in controlling communicable diseases;
  • Develop and review contingency plans and respond effectively to outbreaks, emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases;
  • Develop, support, implement and evaluate programmes on the prevention and control of communicable diseases (including hospital-acquired infections);
  • Develop research agenda and support applied research on the prevention and control of communicable diseases;
  • Build up capacity and develop professional expertise on communicable diseases; and
  • Act as the Government's advisor on disease control. The long term priority of the CHP would be broadened to cover environmental hazards and other non-communicable diseases.

"A new public health infrastructure for Hong Kong, the CHP has been set up to enhance existing diseases control strategies and address new challenges," the Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food, Dr Yeoh Eng-kiong said.

"By harnessing and consolidating the professional knowledge and expertise in combating infectious diseases, the CHP will be better placed to co-ordinate and take appropriate measures to tackle health threats and respond to outbreaks.

"With the CHP up and running, I am confident that our surveillance and response capacity for infectious diseases, including new and emerging infectious diseases, will be considerably strengthened," Dr Yeoh said.

The Controller of the CHP, Dr PY Leung, said DH's structure had been reviewed and services divisions re-orangised in the past few months to facilitate the set up of the CHP.

"Under the new structure, the four regional offices which are responsible for the investigation of infectious disease outbreaks will be merged with effect from tomorrow and put under the CHP's Surveillance & Epidemiology Branch.

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