The SARS crisis was a reminder of the need for a strong commitment to enhancing public health infrastructure and global co-operation against communicable diseases.
This was the message today from Centre for Health Protection Controller Dr Leung Pak-yin, addressing the opening ceremony of the European Centre for Disease Prevention & Control in Stockholm.
"Medical professionals need to strengthen their capabilities for a quick and co-ordinated response since communicable and emerging diseases could wage a war against humankind anytime in the 21st century," Dr Leung said.
"The setting up of the European centre for disease control is a timely manifestation of the European Commission's determination to play a central role in the protection and promotion of public health in European Union countries, and to lead its people to win this war."
Dr Leung said Hong Kong was also making every effort to improve its public health system.
"With the support and approval of the legislature, the Government has allocated funding for investment in both the hardware and software needed to fortify public health infrastructure to prepare for the resurgence of SARS and other potential public health threats," he said.
Dr Leung said in view of the galloping pace of globalisation which is transforming the world into a global village, close international co-operation is essential in the detection, prevention and control of communicable diseases.
"Our experience from SARS and avian influenza shows that, apart from commitment in investing in healthcare infrastructure, effective prevention and control of communicable diseases requires an efficient and sensitive disease surveillance system."
He said Hong Kong has taken proactive efforts in forging strategic partnerships with international health organisations.
"Our vision for the Centre for Health Protection is to develop it as a centre of excellence with a vast network of international collaboration in order to strengthen disease surveillance capacity."
Pledge to meet global expectations
He said he hoped to see the centre form a strategic alliance with the European centre for disease control, the World Health Organisation and other counterparts.
"We can explore plenty of exciting co-operation opportunities on experience sharing as well as staff secondments and exchanges," Dr Leung said.
Quoting a World Health Organisation expert as saying the world will continue to depend on Hong Kong to play an important neighbourly role in regional and global public health, Dr Leung said the centre will pledge to live up to global expectations.