Updated at 7.04pm: Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food York Chow Yat-ngok on Thursday was on a visit to Switzerland - discussing healthcare funding and ways to deal with bird flu. Dr Chow and Swiss health officials in Bern also discussed measures to regulate health insurance products and premiums. The Health Secretary visited the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health as he began his official visit to Europe. Those who met Dr Chow included Office Director Thomas Zeltner and deputy head of Office's Health Insurance Supervision Division Theodor Laubscher. Dr Chow said the meetings provided a good chance for Hong Kong to learn more about the issue. This was because the Swiss health care system was largely financed through a mandatory health insurance scheme. 'At a time when Hong Kong is exploring its way forward for health care and medical development, the practice and experience of Switzerland can serve as a useful reference for us,' he explained. During the meetings, Director of Swiss Federal Office of Public Health Thomas Zeltner praised Hong Kong's efforts in containing avian influenza. He said Europe was now under threat from bird flu and Switzerland had much to learn from the city, particularly in regard to its experience in fighting the 1997 outbreak. Professor Zeltner said he believed measures implemented in Hong Kong could reduce the risk of a possible outbreak. Dr Chow is expected to meet the Secretariat of the Swiss Conference of the Cantonal Ministers of Public Health. He will also visit a hospital during his stay in Switzerland. The Swiss Federal Office of Public Health is the national authority in Switzerland responsible for developing policy on public health.