It proposes creating a centre to take charge of communicable disease control and surveillance in the Pearl River Delta Hong Kong needs a health-care system with 'the capacity for war-time response', said Sian Griffiths, who co-chaired the Sars experts committee. The committee said the health-care system needs restructuring, possibly with the establishment of an organisation similar to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States. A centre for health protection, which would 'work across the Pearl River Delta', is being proposed to handle the responsibility of advising the government on health protection. 'The Sars epidemic has exposed many weaknesses in the system, particularly when faced with the threat of a major new disease,' the panel said in its report. 'A new public-health infrastructure will be appropriate for consolidating existing disease control strategies and addressing new challenges.' Professor Griffiths said: 'We are coming towards winter and we do not know when the next new emerging disease or Sars will come back. 'We need to be prepared and to be sure that the surge capacity flexibility of the system [can] respond to such a threat. You can use the analogy of war and peace. 'You need the capacity for wartime response - quick, rapid, well-informed.' She said a 'unique organisation' such as the proposed centre for health protection would be more suitable to Hong Kong considering the 'open nature of its population and environment and its position as an international port'. 'We think there should be a centre for health protection which takes charge of communicable disease control, surveillance, making sure there are outbreak plans, and co-ordination across Hong Kong,' Professor Griffiths said. 'We believe that this organisation needs to work across the Pearl River Delta because diseases do not recognise boundaries.' Rosie Young Tse-tse, professor emeritus at the University of Hong Kong's faculty of medicine, agreed that a new structure was needed. Lee Shiu-hung, a former director of health, said: 'Some 300,000 people are travelling across the boundary every day and so is food, going either way on a daily basis. We cannot just look at Hong Kong.' The report also called for a review of the organisational structure of the Health, Welfare and Food Bureau and its relationship to five departments which it directly supervises, as well as the Hospital Authority. The probe found 'several deficiencies and ambiguities' in the organisational structure of the Hospital Authority, which 'amplified tensions between political and administrative structures'. Sir Cyril Chantler, an expert committee co-chair, said: 'We think that some reorganisation at the top of the shelf is necessary to merge functions between the different departments within the bureau to clarify policymaking and responsibility, and operational efficiency.'