Letters to the Editor, May 13, 2017

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 13 May, 2017, 9:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 13 May, 2017, 9:00am

Drug subsidy is a question of humanity

I wish to express my opinion on whether the Hospital Authority and government should subsidise costly drugs (“Subsidising new tumour-fighting drug ­depends on effectiveness not cost”, May 3). I was stunned to learn that a 36-year-old died after failing to get a new drug for her rare genetic disease subsidised. It is time for greater awareness of patients’ rights.

The medicine this patient needed cost around HK$20,000 a month and was not listed under the Drug Formulary for public hospitals, that is, it was not a standard drug subsidised by the government.

The government wants to be certain of the effectiveness of costly drugs ­before subsidising them. ­However, I think it should be more ­humanitarian in its ­approach, especially as the Alliance for Rare Diseases estimates that about 7,500 patients in the city have rare diseases.

The Hong Kong government has huge cash reserves, it can easily help the needy get better medical treatment. The Drug Formulary should be revised for maximum mitigation of the financial ­burden of patients.

The government could also cooperate with pharmaceutical firms to develop drugs at a lower cost, and put more resources into research for new and ­improved drugs.

Heidi Keung, Kowloon Tong

Air pollution taking a dire toll on health

I refer to the report on the choking pollution in Hong Kong (“Very high levels of air pollution ­recorded”, May 6).

High levels of air pollution can adversely affect public health, especially those in the “very high” health risk category, such as children, the elderly and people with existing heart or ­respiratory illnesses.

The report said areas near the airport were the worst-hit. The pollution worsened as light winds over the coastal area of Guangdong were unable to ­disperse pollutants.

According to the Environmental Protection Department, 14 out of 16 stations across ­different districts ­recorded Air Quality Health Index readings ranging from 7 to 10, posing high (7) to very high (8 to 10) health risks.

Under such conditions, it is advisable that those in the “very high” health risk category try their best to reduce time spent outdoors, especially in areas with heavy traffic.

Moreover, Hong Kong ­people should more consciously and actively take steps to protect the environment and adopt green practices, so that the air pollution does not threaten long-term public health.

Kathy Fung Ka-ki, Kwai Chung

HK’s system of education is a mixed blessing

I am writing to share my views on the education system of Hong Kong, a topic of heated ­debate in recently.

Many parents and students blame the system for creating a stressful atmosphere, leaving little time for physical activity and stifling creativity. However, I think we need to take a ­balanced view of the situation.

The Hong Kong education system certainly involves a lot of spoon-feeding and tests. But it can have both a positive and a negative side. On the plus side, it can make sure that our children assimilate all kinds of knowledge, and taking tests from early on gives them necessary practice for interviews and ­examinations later in life.

However, chasing your own dreams is not encouraged quite as much. The high-pressure competitive environment ­created by our education ­system forces us to always try to stay ahead in the race, whatever the cost. Sometimes this proves too much for some students and they may take extreme steps. Even if you attempt to chase your dream, you will be challenged with the question, “Do you think you are up to the task?’

I think it is time for all Hong Kong people, students or otherwise, to learn to relax. Second, we must look at ways to improve the system, and bring in changes that would help to nurture the ­individuality and creativity of students, so that bookish ­learning does not ­remain the only focus.

At least the present system ensures that the city’s children get a chance at being clever and knowledgeable.

Phoebe Chung, Yau Yat Chuen

Opt-in is best for registering organ donors

The plight of Tang Kwai-sze, a mother suffering from liver failure who underwent a double transplant, has captured public attention in Hong Kong.

After her daughter was barred from donating as she was still below the eligible age of 18, Tang had been desperately waiting for a transplant, ­before a kind donor, Momo Cheng Hoi-yan, stepped up. But before that, a liver had become available from a ­deceased patient, but it could not be considered due to ­opposition from the family members.

There have been calls for changing our opt-in system of organ donation to opt-out, to improve the transplant rate, while others want the donor age to be lowered.

I oppose lowering the donor age because hospitals may not have a clear basis to define who is a donor of mature thought.

As for the opt-in/opt-out argument, I think there needs to be a compromise.

I am inclined to back the ­opt-in mechanism, but without the right of relatives to veto a transplant when the ­deceased has signed on to donate.

Anfield Tam, Quarry Bay

Blood donation stations need to be increased

I refer to the article on the serious shortage of blood for transfusion and appeal for donors (“Hong Kong Red Cross issues urgent appeal for blood donors as supplies dwindle,” May 4.

The inventory at the group’s Blood Transfusion Service had dwindled so much that it could sustain only about four days of normal supply.

This was not the first time that the Red Cross called for more donations due to a shortage of blood supply. I would like to offer some suggestions on boosting blood donation.

Firstly,the government and Red Cross can work together to educate the public and promote donation drives. Advertisements about donation drives can be seen on different social media platforms, but promotion within the community can start with informative sessions in community centres.

The number of blood donation stations should also be ­increased. More convenient ­access with short travel times would mean more people would donate. Community ­centres would again be a good choice of venue as these are ­usually near residential areas and are more accessible.

Kwok Wing-yee, Kowloon Tong

Meat-free days must return for bun festival

I refer to your article on the bun festival (“Meat off the menu for three days during Cheung Chau bun festival”, May 1) .

I think this is a very good and meaningful idea. That is ­because having no meat during the bun festival is a tradition of Cheung Chau.

Island locals wanted to revive the century-old tradition and urged tourists and restaurants to observe the practice.

As the island’s main draw is seafood, it was surprising to see that almost all shops agreed not to sell any meat for three days. It showed that they really ­respected and supported the festival. This was a good opportunity to promote the culture of the festival to visitors.

This initiative should not stop and the island should ­observe this tradition every year.

Hayley Au, Kowloon Tong