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PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 22 February, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 22 February, 2006, 12:00am

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

I refer to 'When the drugs don't work' (City, February 13). One major problem in Hong Kong is the overuse of antibiotics compared with western countries. The reason is obvious and the solution is simple. Private physicians in Hong Kong prescribe antibiotics when there is no real need because they make money from selling antibiotics.

Most local health insurance policies keep a tight control on the maximum fee they reimburse per consultation, so physicians are forced to reduce their fees and offset this by, among other things, selling more antibiotics.

How to avoid it? The solution is simple. In most western countries with advanced medical health systems, doctors are forbidden from selling any medicine. They provide the prescriptions which are filled in drugstores. Thus physicians have no financial incentive to oversubscribe antibiotics (or any other drugs) and their prescriptions reflect the true medical need.

All the Hong Kong government needs to do is study this system, copy and implement it. And then Hong Kong will finally lose its position as a leader in the worldwide distribution of superbugs.

Miki Sivan, Sha Tin

Q Should improved ventilation be grounds for a smoking-ban exemption?

A better ventilation system cannot completely create an environment that is the same as a smoke-free one unless the system runs like a hurricane. But that's impossible. As the Council on Smoking and Health said, it is 'untrue' that ventilation can prevent second-hand smoking. It seems that with the release of the 2009 smoking-ban proposal, restaurant and bar owners are trying to find any excuse to escape the ban. They believe improved ventilation can be an alternative but, in fact, it can't solve the problem. Workers in those restaurants would still have to inhale second-hand smoke as they have to serve customers face to face.

The smoking ban aims to encourage people to smoke less and protect workers' health. Better ventilation cannot do this. Therefore, restaurant owners, stop making excuses, support the smoking ban proposal and execute it as soon as possible.

Rebecca Wan, Mid-Levels

Q How can organ donation be encouraged?

I definitely support organ donation. As a willing organ donor, I think it's a gift of life to those who are dying. What's the use of keeping one's organs after death? Besides, like blood, there are no reliable substitutes for real organs.

I understand, however, why some people object to organ donation. The older generation, especially, may see organ donation as some sort of bad omen or inauspicious act since there is a Chinese saying that we should keep a dead body whole. However, it's high time the concept changed. It can be encouraged in various ways.

First, education. When you see and understand the plight of patients who are dying for want of an organ, how can you ignore it? More promotion, advertising or public education is needed.

Second, those supporting organ donation should lobby their friends and relatives. Even if they don't see eye to eye with it, tell your family members of your will to donate organs when you die.

Third, more medical and cosmetic help is needed for the donors so as not to distort their appearance. This could help to convince family members to donate their beloved one's organs.

The ending of one life can save another one. Please support organ donation.

Deb Lee Hau-ling, Tuen Mun

On other matters ...

The full opening of the IFC Mall has added to the traffic load on Man Cheung Street between One IFC and Two IFC. For cars leaving Two IFC or the Four Seasons Hotel and heading west, the traffic arrangement requires them to go along Man Cheung Street to the traffic light at the junction with Man Yiu Street. Here, they must do a U-turn into the westbound lane of Man Cheung Street and then head for the tunnel below, leading to the Connaught Road flyover.

This creates a terrible logjam for Man Cheung Street, bearing in mind the heavy traffic heading to Hong Kong Station of the Airport Express.

An easy solution is to adjust an earlier traffic signal on Man Cheung Street, which is just above the tunnel below Man Cheung Street, right after getting out of the Four Seasons Hotel. This adjustment should allow traffic to do a U-turn on Man Cheung Street and go into the tunnel. This would expedite the flow of traffic going west from the IFC Mall. More importantly, this would relieve Man Cheung Street and the Airport Express Hong Kong Station of the congestion created by cars that now need to make the whole detour by travelling the whole length (eastbound and westbound) of Man Cheung Street.

The traffic signal that needs adjustment is the one where, just recently, a 'straight ahead' or no turning sign was installed. I would invite the Transport Department and the police to consider the removal of this sign and adjust the traffic signal to allow a better flow of traffic at that junction. An additional suggestion to ease traffic around the IFC is that on the northbound lane of Man Yiu Street, at the small patch just outside the entrance of Two IFC, if that portion could be made into a yellow-hatch zone, it would be easier for the southbound traffic on Man Yiu Street to turn into Two IFC instead of being stuck there and blocking the road.

James Lau, Shouson Hill

I found Christina Dean's article 'Trading Faces' yesterday quite disturbing as it highlights the negative messages we hand down to our daughters about physical appearance and self-worth.

Our obsession with such narrow definitions of beauty threatens to erase the distinct qualities of human faces that have fascinated artists and photographers for generations, not to mention the familial sense people have when they can say they have mum's nose or dad's eyes.

'Samantha' is infuriatingly self-absorbed.

While she claims cosmetic surgery is 'no big deal', she won't tell her daughter about her own procedures for fear that she will realise her mother is not a natural beauty. Yet she admits her 13-year-old is obsessed with her own face and wants cosmetic surgery.

Could it be that Samantha's daughter is developing a complex because she thinks she does not measure up to her mother's 'natural' beauty?

Leave me with my broad features and freckles, which speak of both Latino and Irish heritage, and my laugh lines and crow's feet - proof of a life well lived.

Who are we kidding in our struggle against ageing anyway? Face it - elbow skin gives out eventually.

Just think of that the next time you see a woman with a taut face and loose underarms.

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