Establish independent health care body

I FULLY endorse Legislative Councillor Dr C. H. Leong's call on the Government to set a long-term plan on the delivery of health care to the community (South China Morning Post, August 13). The task, however, will be difficult.

The Secretary for Health and Welfare, who makes major policies, does not have the in-depth knowledge of medical care, and the Hospital Authority which delivers the health care does not make policies.

With limited resources and diverse moral vision, it is impossible for anybody or any government department to decide whether money is better spent on a $3 million heart transplant or vaccination against hepatitis for our children. The best way one can hope to frame a health care policy that creates a fair and basic package available to all, is through open public debate and by democratic decision. As we do not have a representative government in Hong Kong, I suggest we should set up an independent body orcommission broadly represented by a cross-section of the public, including pressure groups, professional disciplines etc, to ascertain community and individual values in prioritising treatment and proper delivery of health care. Perhaps Dr Leong could evenchair such a commission.

There is a precedent for what I am advocating. In 1989, the Oregon Legislature, with the aim of providing health care to all Oregonians, established a Health Services Commission of Oregon and an opinion poll was conducted.

A total of 47 town meetings as well as commission hearings were used to determine the treatment priorities for the community.