ESF - English Schools Foundation

talk back

PUBLISHED : Friday, 17 February, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 17 February, 2006, 12:00am

Q What can be done to reduce the improper use of antibiotics?

I lived in Hong Kong in the early 1990s for two years.

Whenever I sneezed or coughed, people around me would assume I was getting sick and would tell me to go to a doctor for medicine.

It blew my mind because I knew my sneezing and coughing were from dust plus the bad air quality in Hong Kong.

But the people in Hong Kong are so dependent on medicine for everything and think you should go to the doctor for a sniffle!

My nephew in Hong Kong is three years old and his mother takes him to the doctor for everything.

The slightest sniffle would bother her.

In the United States, it's nothing like that. Parents use judgment when it comes to colds and the flu.

When my son show signs of sniffling, I give him vitamin C tablets daily, make sure he is dressed properly, if in the winter, and that he always keeps his hands clean.

It's called riding it out. Colds are viral so it has to take its course. How does one build immunity if medicine is always the solution?

If he had a sore throat, I would take him to a doctor to eliminate the possibility of strep throat. One must use proper judgment because of the side effects of the antibiotics/medicine. The best remedy - drink plenty of fluids and rest.

Name and address supplied

I would like to make some proposals to help reduce the improper use of antibiotics, which can be very harmful to the public.

Increase public awareness as to the benefits and risks of antimicrobials. Promote community education programmes on medication in the public school system.

Teach children and their families the appropriate use of antibiotics and the need for completing the whole course - which should be no less than seven days.

Install continuing education programmes for family physicians in the community on the antimicrobial drug of choice that demonstrates the best efficacy in treatment with least microbial resistance.

This supplants the reliance on drug company representatives to provide it.

In the teaching hospital setting, set up antibiotic protocols whereby strict criteria must be met before the use of broad-spectrum antibiotics (most notorious for causing antimicrobial resistance) can be prescribed and used in the treatment of patients.

While exploring other drug treatment options with their antimicrobial specialist, the costly broad-spectrum antibiotics can be saved for second-line or third-line therapy.

Large conglomerate health-care providers or doctors in large partnerships can set high professional and ethical standards for the community.

These organisations should hire a pharmacist to be part of their health-care team, to dispense medication and to counsel patients on side effects, drug interactions, allergies and the proper use of instruments such as inhalers.

By recognising the established profession of pharmacists, as opposed to permitting dispensing by nurses or receptionists, they are upholding the same integrity that can be found in other developed nations.

Garland Young, Central

Q Should marathon entrants over 45 be required to have a medical check-up?

Of course, I am myself 47 and exercise regularly, swimming about a kilometre per day.

But in spite of that, I know how much less endurance I have for some exercise, which puts a lot of stress on my physiology, than let's say 20 years ago.

I would strongly recommend that any person (even a younger one, not to mention any middle-aged or older person) would have a medical check-up before taking on any rigorous athletic exercise.

Seppo Kallakivi, Finland

Q Are Hongkongers responsible pet owners?

If this means:

Providing a dog with a microchip, dog licence, updating rabies vaccinations, a home, love, food, protection, regular veterinary check-ups, monthly worming programme, tick/flea treatment, daily exercise and stimulation;

Preferring to pay all medical costs on a pay-as-you-go basis and not entering into a dog insurance plan with too much small print;

Being prepared with newspaper tissues, plastic bags and hand-wash lotion on every walk, plus a bottle of water to dilute my dog's urine (not that this is called for by law);

Being aware of the laws and also my rights as a licensed dog owner;

Feeding my dog with a vet-recommended food formula that reduces their stool, making it an environmentally friendly dog;

Taking the time when members of the public show an interest in my dog, allowing them to interact together, and answering their questions.

If this makes me a responsible dog owner, then I stand guilty as charged!

Name and address supplied

Q Is the new school building planned for Discovery Bay too big?

In response to Mike Allardice's letter (Talkback, Tuesday), I must stress that I have on many occasions openly expressed my support of a private independent school (PIS) in Discovery Bay (DB). I would also like to state the facts of the past six years.

The developer never revealed to DB residents their master plans or any changes, not to mention had a consultation. The first time I learnt about the school was by coincidence when I made a land search on other matters.

On February 28, 2000, the Director of Lands approved the plan, which was registered with the Land Registry on March 14, 2000, unknown to DB residents. Before that there had never been any mention of the school.

I took the initiative to organise a Town Hall meeting in DB on April 29, 2000, to announce this piece of information.

It was not until 2003 that the Education and Manpower Bureau (EMB) announced the appointment of the English Schools Foundation (ESF) as the school operator. I approached the ESF and EMB for more information but in vain. Again, it took two years, up to April 2005, before the developer and ESF hosted two meetings to brief residents on the proposed school.

In May last year, a group of residents expressed concern about the size of the school and the transport problems. They wanted the ESF to address these issues before going full steam ahead. However, in November another group of residents wanted the ESF to go ahead with the project immediately.

On December 6, I organised a meeting for representatives of these two groups to meet the ESF, their architect, the developer and the relevant government departments, for a discussion, hoping to come up with a plan that would be acceptable to all parties concerned.

Unfortunately, the developer did not send a representative. The meeting was inconclusive. At the end of the meeting I volunteered to organise a town hall meeting in DB for residents to understand the latest development. It took two months, up to February 6, before the ESF and their traffic consultant were able to address the transport issues in the town hall meeting.

From the above one can see that the progress of this project has been marked by a gross lack of consultation and transparency, hence the confusion, misunderstanding and unnecessary arguments. As the Legislative Council Finance Committee has to decide and approve the funding for this project today, there is no point in continuing the debate. It is now for the related parties to take practical steps to solve any transport, safety and environmental problems.

Amy Yung Wing-sheung, Islands District Council member, Discovery Bay

Q How do we fix Hong Kong's air pollution problems?

As tourists for two weeks, unfortunately during the recent high pollution spell, I can only say our holiday was spoilt by the high pollution here. Not given to illness, I fell ill and sought medical help as I came down with headaches, sore throat, coughing and phlegm - all the usual pollution-induced symptoms.

I am also aware of the inadequacy of the government air pollution warnings underestimating the problem vis-a-vis other world cities and believe this made it impossible for us to accurately gauge the pollution situation in order to take action.

Until the air quality improves and government does something constructive and transparent, these tourists will not be visiting again - neither will our dinner party circuit friends.

Also, why not introduce a competition law, as many shops in the city are a complete rip-off, and when they are not, they charge similar to world city prices - which include tax - while Hong Kong doesn't have a sales tax!

I also see products in other countries long before they arrive here. If you want the latest, go to Japan.

To paraphrase a famous comment, 'Oh dear, Hong Kong, where did it all go wrong,'

Name and address supplied