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About HKCFP > President’s Message

February 2019

Globally, we are facing an increasing trend in total population as well as that in longevity in life, and Hong Kong is no exception to the rule. However, population increase and ageing do come with extra challenges to the society, especially on health related issues which would further add to the burden on health service demands. HKCFP is pleased to see the Government’s determination to strengthen primary health care services to address the needs of the population in the recent Policy Address.

In the first week of January 2019, I attended the 2019-20 Budget Consultation Meeting organised by the Financial Secretary, Mr. Paul Chan. In the meeting, I welcomed the government’s new concepts of setting up District Health Centres which are intended to provide service hubs in the districts for a spectrum of prevention and treatment activities so that the clinical services coordinated and provided by the family doctors in the localities would be further strengthened. 

On the other hand, the role of the family doctor in the patient journey is crucial as the family doctor would know best about what, when and where the most appropriate services for the patient would be, based on the continuing and trusting relationship with the patient that places the family doctor to be the health advocate and navigator for the patient. There is strong evidence substantiating the gatekeeping role of the family doctors in that the societal health care resources are better utilised and the health outcomes are far superior in countries where there is a strong primary care system supported by family doctors in place. However, when we look at the family doctor manpower landscape, it is not difficult to find that the local scene is less than satisfactory. In the Budget Meeting, I proposed and reiterated the importance of the urgent need for the government to allocate more resources in the training of family doctors in Hong Kong to address the rising health burden due to population increase and ageing population, generating a basket of health issues, non communicable diseases being one of the most evident. Based on international comparison, a conservative estimate of an an ual intake of 100 medical graduates to be trained as family doctors would be required to enhance the current system, and to make it sustainable. Our College is eager to work with the Government for the betterment of the health of the Hong Kong population.

Another fresh evidence on the importance of family medicine in the global health scene is the signing of a landmark Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between World Health Organisation (WHO) and World Organisation of Family Doctors (WONCA) on 28th January 2019 (on page 2) to recognise the key role played by family doctors in achieving universal health coverage by providing comprehensive, patient-centred, and professional care. As many may have already realised, WHO does not sign MOU lightly. Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus Director General of WHO and Professor Donald KT Li our WONCA President have helped to strengthen the global link between health services improvement policies and family medicine programmes. Hopefully, we can work together with the stakeholders locally in Hong Kong to achieve the same goal soon!

As the Lunar New Year is just round the corner, I wish everyone a very happy New Year of the Pig!

Dr. David V K CHAO