Two professors from Guangdong will make medical history by working in Hong Kong hospitals Two leading mainland Chinese herbalists will this week make medical history when they treat Sars patients in Hong Kong's public hospitals for the first time. Professors Lin Lin and Yang Zhi-min of the Guangdong Provincial Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine have been invited to share their experience of treating severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) patients in the southern province. The Hospital Authority hopes to introduce traditional Chinese medicines into the public sector later this week for the first time. Professor Lin, director of the Guangdong hospital's respiratory department, said trials for 110 mainland patients using Chinese medicine with steroids and antiviral Ribavirin had cut the recovery period by three days. The patients also recovered more quickly from fever. 'We hope we can observe and treat Sars patients suffering from different levels of severity. We will respect their privacy in doing our research and treatment,' Professor Lin said. The fatality rate in Guangdong has remained at a low 4 per cent compared to 11 per cent in Hong Kong. A rising fatality rate in Hong Kong, which overseas experts have put at 16 per cent, has prompted concern from some medical experts about the treatment used here. Ko Wing-man, director for professional services at the Hospital Authority, said: 'For the first time in Hong Kong, public Western hospitals will incorporate Chinese medicine in the treatment of patients. This is a historic breakthrough.' The two mainland doctors arrived on Saturday and immediately went to Tuen Mun Hospital to observe the treatment of a 42-year-old man who has Sars and is suffering from a chronic illness. This week, the pair will map out the research and clinical protocol for the experiments with authority doctors. The two have been granted limited registration to be able to practice medicine at the public hospitals and clinics, said Director of Health Margaret Chan Fung Fu-chun. Hong Kong health authorities maintain that the combination of Ribavirin and steroids has an 80 per cent success rate and remains their first line of treatment for Sars patients. Three doctors are among 77 patients in intensive care, including a female doctor at Tuen Mun Hospital. One nurse and five health-care assistants also remain critically ill. Meanwhile, a University of Hong Kong study has found that male Sars patients are two to three times more likely to die than female patients. By May 1, the mortality figure was 65 per cent for male patients. However, the researchers, from the university's Clinical Trials Centre, said the ratio was much higher during the initial phase of the Sars outbreak in Hong Kong, at 80-90 per cent. 'This gender difference is also seen when only data of patients with chronic disease history is included,' they said. 'The reason for this gender difference can only be speculated upon; be it related to a past smoking history, work environment factors or immune-defence factors, for instance.' Another study, by the Hong Kong Psychological Society, has confirmed the general feeling that Hong Kong people worry most about Sars these days. The virus was the top concern among 762 people aged over 18 who completed a telephone survey between April 24-25.