talk back

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 13 March, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 13 March, 2007, 12:00am

Q Should the government step up monitoring of antibiotic use?

As a doctor working in the public system, I can say we are closely monitored regarding appropriate antibiotic use. The same cannot be said for private practitioners. It is common for private practitioners to dispense antibiotics for what are obviously viral infections. Some doctors argue that patients expect it, so they do it.

That's not medicine; that's sales.

Dr Y.K. Yuen

Without doubt, the government should become more involved with antibiotics use. Although antibiotics are drugs that help kill or prevent the growth of bacteria, when used improperly the small number of surviving bacteria are able to multiply with a stronger resistance to antibiotics.

This can result in serious consequences, making some antibiotics virtually useless. The fact that Hong Kong has already developed a programme to monitor the use of antibiotics in public hospitals is outstanding.

The improvements that have resulted from supervising the hospitals are impressive and should certainly be continued. I believe it is extremely important that Hong Kong gets involved in this matter. I have already read a report on a woman who died in Hong Kong because she had become resistant to all available antibiotics.

Her death shows that it is crucial to monitor over-prescription and the failure to finish a course of the drug. Hong Kong must be very careful to make sure that superbugs are not spread.

There already is a range of infections - including tuberculosis, pneumonia and typhoid - that have developed resistance to antibiotics in recent years, bringing much cause for concern. Therefore, I find it essential that the government not only monitor the use of antibiotics, but also start to educate patients.

Eden Antos, Wan Chai

Q How can we reduce the risk of roadside pollution?

W.C. Mok, of the Environmental Protection Department, in yesterday's Talkback has clearly shown the suffocating constraints put on his department by the chief executive.

Mr Mok is correct that the department has diesel smoke limits similar to other countries, but the Transport Department uses standards that are closer to those in Bangladesh than to the EPD. Under 10 per cent of trucks on the road are tested with the latest EPD equipment at the higher standards.

The rest face only a smoke test that was condemned by the 2005 audit report. Routine yearly testing is not done by the EPD but by the Transport Department, using their lax standards.

Donald Tsang Yam-kuen thinks this is a good thing, and has refused to instruct transport officials to tighten the standards.

Look even more closely and you will see that the proposed idling engine laws are already being gutted by Mr Tsang. In his election platform he advocates only that 'motorists' not idle.

Transport operators, under all weather conditions, would be exempted if they used the excuse that they were 'picking up and dropping off' passengers - even if there is not a passenger is sight.

We know because right now Clear The Air is doing idling engine patrols on our streets and we have the drivers on video saying they have a 'right' to idle if they even think a passenger might show up.

Furthermore, every minibus licence holder has made it a policy to leave their minibus idling - and this was when the weather was 19 degrees.

Add to that the drivers getting out of their vehicles and leaving them idling, which is already illegal, it is clear that when it comes to enforcing existing law to protect us from pollution, Mr Tsang is asleep on the job.

Annelise Connell, Clear The Air

I refer, with utter disbelief, to the comments from KMB's Susanne Ho (Talkback, February 26) about Doug Woodring's letter regarding bus emissions.

It seemed that Ms Ho was proud to announce that KMB is a leader in our community by using just three Euro IV standard buses, out of almost 3,900 registered to our streets. This is less than 0.0007 per cent.

What is more shocking is that in her quest to show that KMB is being socially responsible, she mentioned nothing about her company's defined plans for making major improvements on bus emissions in the future.

If the company already had made decisions in this respect, one would expect her to promote them with vigour, showing how her company is leading the pack in corporate social responsibility.

It also appears from the Transport Department's website that none of the other bus companies has registered new buses since 2003, or before.

One can quickly assume that their buses also are not Euro IV design, and are therefore heavily polluting relative to the standards being used elsewhere.

Corporate social responsibility will become more important in the coming years in Hong Kong, particularly as it relates to environmental impact on the community.

So far, the government has failed to protect its citizens by requiring the bus companies to meet new emissions standards and, based on Ms Ho's comments, it seems that KMB (leading the industry with only three 'clean' buses) is simply doing the bare minimum to appease the community that it is supposed to care for.

K. Lim, Wan Chai

On other matters ...

So Magistrate Winston Leung Wing-chung is now saying Hong Kong employers of Filipino domestics should treat them 'with respect and not like slaves' ('Respect your maid, says magistrate as he sentences 'barbaric' boss', March 9), when not too long ago he blithely meted out a six-month jail sentence to Jacky Cheung Hok-yau's maid when the pop star hauled her to court for having purloined some discarded photos.

How nice that the magistrate has suddenly acquired some humanity. But his judgment apparently is still clouded since he ordered a mere 100 hours of community service for Annaliza Celba's 'barbaric' mistress while acquitting the equally guilty husband who helped in assaulting Ms Celba.

Oh well, I guess one should just be thankful for small mercies in this supposedly civilised 'world city'.

Isabel Escoda, Lantau