Officials clash on hygiene bureau

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 13 October, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 13 October, 1998, 12:00am

Senior government officials are divided on the role and power of a new hygiene bureau when dealing with infectious diseases.

Deputy Secretary for Health and Welfare Stephen Ng Chin-ming told legislators yesterday that if there was an outbreak of an infectious disease such as cholera, the new bureau would act as co-ordinator.

Mr Ng was speaking at a Legco health panel meeting.

But Director of Health Margaret Chan Fung Fu-chun said the Health Department should handle the situation and communicate with overseas health authorities such as the World Health Organisation.

Health services legislator Michael Ho Man-ka expressed concern on interpretation of the issue.

The Government plans to abolish the urban and regional councils and centralise food safety and environmental hygiene under a new bureau and a new services department.

Mr Ng said the bureau would oversee food safety and environmental hygiene while the Health Department would concentrate on non-food issues such as the registration of Chinese medicines.

Dr Leong Che-hung, representing the medical constituency, said he agreed with the Government's direction on centralising food safety under one bureau but disagreed with the arrangements.

Dr Leong suggested splitting the Health and Welfare Bureau into two bodies.