Hong Kong seeks to emulate Britain in its fight against superbug infections, but it isn't easy, says the Hospital Authority's infection control chief. Britain slashed hospital MRSA blood infections by 70 per cent in five years. In Hong Kong, infection rates have dropped 12 per cent for hospitals providing acute services since 2007, when the authority began collecting data. 'Of course, we would like to have much more improvement like what happened in the UK,' infection control chief Dr Dominic Tsang Ngai-chong said. 'But I'm also aware that what happened in the UK is a result of a whole lot of efforts... It isn't just doing one thing, like magic. It's a whole package, done over years.' After a series of highly critical reports about hospital infection rates, Britain's Department of Health launched a comprehensive campaign to drastically reduce infection rates - tying reductions to hospitals' recertification, and boosting training and hygiene programmes. From April 2004 to March 2009, the Department of Health and related departments spent nearly GBP57 million (HK$716 million) on tackling health care-associated infections, according to the National Audit Office. In 2007 alone, British hospitals spent nearly GBP120 million on infection prevention and control. Spending on cleaning, another budget category, increased from GBP355 million in 2003 to GBP522 million in 2007. With these efforts, the number of hospital MRSA blood infections dropped from 7,096 in 2006 to 1,898 last year. The audit office estimated that between 2004 and 2009, the reduction in infections saved hospitals between GBP45 million and ?59 million. 'The British experience has aptly demonstrated that with appropriate leadership and resources support, a favourable outcome could be achieved,' authority chief executive Leung Pak-yin wrote in a medical bulletin last month. Tsang said he had developed a five-year plan, which he hoped would be supported by the authority. An advocate for greater action on MRSA, Dr Ho Pak-leung, said: 'Government and hospital officials have to do more. Hong Kong needs to emulate successful countries like the UK. There's no point comparing with countries that have failed such as the US - they have clearly failed to take MRSA seriously - or less-developed Asian countries.' Tsang said: 'I fully support and have no difference of opinion with what Ho has said. We have the same target - we want zero infections. But is it a realistic target, given all of the constraints and the settings here? We have to struggle very hard and set our priorities. For example, during Sars and swine flu ... we had to prioritise our tasks. And when all of these ad-hoc emerging issues happen ... our efforts are hijacked, in a sense.'