Dreadful though it was at the time, Hong Kong learned enough through its experience with the bird flu outbreak and the virulent H5N1 virus, to put it in the forefront of the worldwide quest to beat the superbugs. Part of the problem with resistant antibiotics, however, is caused by weaknesses in the medical system itself. Because many patients go from one surgery to another if a first prescription fails to act quickly enough, people end up overdosing on antibiotics, or - worse still - abandoning one course of drugs in favour of another. That behaviour makes them more susceptible to whatever is floating in the atmosphere searching for a willing host. So it was entirely predictable the city should become the earliest port of call for the latest in a new breed of viruses, and that the first fatality should have happened here. Scientists believe it is only a matter of time before there are signs of a new global epidemic. With such a vulnerable population, Hong Kong will have to be extremely vigilant in preventing an outbreak from starting here, and it is reassuring to learn that measures have already begun to prevent this. But the surveillance programme would not have been needed if people were more informed about health issues, and if offending doctors stopped the practice of handing out only a few days supply of antibiotics, so patients have to pay for another visit to the surgery to collect the full course of treatment. That is unethical and irresponsible and should be stopped. It is a sobering thought that Hong Kong's susceptibility to disease is, to a significant extent, caused by its medical practitioners. That is something Hippocrates, the father of medicine, could never have imagined.