Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's ambitious plans to develop the city's traditional Chinese medicine industry took a step forward yesterday with the appointment of a task force to help bring the idea to fruition.
Leung wants the government's involvement in the industry to go beyond regulation and include promotion of traditional Chinese medicine and research on it.
The task force, to be chaired by the health minister Dr Ho Wing-man, will lay the foundations for a Chinese Medicine Development Committee.
"Since 1999 when the government established a complete Chinese medicine practitioner monitoring system, [monitoring has been done]," Leung said yesterday at a visit to a Chinese medicine clinic and training centre in Wan Chai.
"It is time, now our monitoring measures are established, for us to also think about how to advance the development of [Chinese medicine], not just monitor it," he said.
Each year, one millions patients consult the 16 Chinese medicine clinics run by the Hospital Authority, a sign that the service has been well received, Leung added.
Ho said that he hoped to work with different groups to develop the Chinese medicine industry in a way that would improve overall healthcare for the public.
Before he was appointed to head the Food and Health Bureau, Ho had proposed the establishment of a Chinese medicine rehabilitation hospital in the city to boost the standing of Chinese medicine practitioners.
He said it should be developed according to a "Hong Kong format" which would bring together treatment from the East and West and would help ease the suffering of patients who had suffered strokes, cancer or chronic pain.
Tong Yao, director of the school of Chinese medicine at the University of Hong Kong, said she hoped the school's graduates would be offered well-rounded training in more hospitals after the establishment of the committee.
The task force will help recruit members to the new committee and set priorities for the committee's future work.