The Hong Kong government will examine the feasibility of setting up one powerful body to be in charge of disease control. Health chief Yeoh Eng-kiong said yesterday the possibility of merging different disease-control bodies in government bureaus and departments was being considered in view of the Sars outbreak. Dr Yeoh said the merger was one of the three options being considered to fight infectious diseases such as Sars in the long term. Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa recently announced the setting up of a body similar to the Centres for Disease Control (CDC) in the United States. Dr Yeoh said another option was to strengthen the Department of Health, which carries out most disease control and prevention functions at present. The third option was to establish a new independent agency similar to the CDC. Dr Yeoh said the Sars crisis had highlighted the importance of public hygiene, notably in the way the virus was able to spread through faulty sewerage systems. He said the government would begin examining ways to strengthen existing functions and to adjust the structure. Officials would then assess the need for redeploying resources and the requirement for new funding, staffing and expertise. 'We have not yet studied the financial implications ... that depends on what we think we should do. But one thing is certain, we need to strengthen contacts with relevant bodies in Guangdong and the mainland.'