The first ever director of the Department of Health, Professor Lee Shiu-hung, has died at the age of 80.
Lee, who retired in 1994 from the department he helped to found after serving the government for 34 years, reportedly died of a brain haemorrhage in the early hours of yesterday.
Secretary for Food and Health Dr Ko Wing-man described Lee's death as a "loss to the local medical industry and public health sector".
"Lee Shiu-hung made great contributions to establishing the local medical system and promoting health education," Ko said.
The director of health, Dr Constance Chan Hon-yee, expressed her profound sadness at Lee's passing and extended her condolences to his family on behalf of department colleagues.
"Professor Lee was a veteran in the public health field. He devoted over half a century to promoting and safeguarding the health of the public ... He was a caring leader and teacher and deeply respected by colleagues in the department," Chan said.
Lee first joined the Hong Kong government in 1960 when the health department was known as the Medical and Health Department. In 1989, he was appointed as the first director of health, when the department was established.
After stepping down from the government, Lee joined Chinese University in 1994 as professor and chairman of its department of community and family medicine, and later served as the founding director of the school of public health from 1999 to 2001.
Lee was awarded a Silver Bauhinia Star in 2000 and was made a Justice of the Peace in 1996.