Letters to the Editor, October 28, 2015

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 27 October, 2015, 4:20pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 27 October, 2015, 4:20pm

Lifestyle factor with eczema important

Thirty per cent of six- to seven-year-old Hong Kong children suffer from lifetime eczema and the trend is increasing.

Children with eczema suffer from severe itching, redness, skin breakdown, infection and impaired quality of life. Childhood eczema also increases parental stress physically and emotionally.

Although a genetic factor plays an important role in causing eczema, its increasing prevalence raises attention to lifestyle and nutritional factors that are specific to Hong Kong.

The gut microbiota in infants is vital for healthy immune systems, which is important for preventing allergic conditions such as eczema.

Findings from Western populations showed that the composition of gut microbiota were altered with lower counts and proportion of Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus and higher counts and proportion of Clostridia in these eczematous children.

The mode of baby delivery (vaginal delivery versus caesarean section), type of feeding (formula feeding versus breastfeeding), antibiotic therapy, dog ownership, day care attendance, and maternal stress and diet during pregnancy, influence microbial exposure of the mother and infant and hence the risk of developing eczema in children. Most of these risk factors are modifiable and that can bring hope to many children and families suffering from eczema.

Due to the cultural characteristics of the Hong Kong diet and living environment, there is a need to further explore these risk factors in the Hong Kong population.

Education is key, not legislation

Carmen W. H. Chan, professor, Janet W. H. Sit, associate professor, Patrick T. W. Law, scientific officer, Nethersole School of Nursing, Chinese University of Hong Kong Education is key, not legislation

There is an ongoing debate about whether an organ donation opt-out scheme should be introduced.

I think it would be absurd to take out someone's organs when they have died without having got their permission.

For traditional Chinese families it is important to keep the corpse whole. It is a sign of showing respect for the dead.

A lot of people, especially older and middle-aged citizens, would be strongly opposed to opt-out legislation, where they were automatically signed up as donors and had to opt out. It could lead to conflicts between people and the government.

I would see this law as a violation of basic human rights. It is up to each individual to decide if they want to donate their organs for transplants after they die.

A donor scheme of any kind should by its very nature be voluntary. It is conscious decision by an individual and an act of giving with like-minded people for a common purpose. If laws are to be passed to increase the number of organ donations, the whole meaning of voluntarily giving will be lost.

If the government really wants the donation rate to go up, the most effective way is through education.

I have seen very few promotions encouraging people to register as donors.

Many people simply do not know about the existence of the register.

I do not believe that enacting laws is the best way to increase the rate of donations.

What is required is more moral education, which will encourage our younger generation to agree to sign up as organ donors and so help to save more lives.

Justin Yeung, Tai Wai 

Secure place to rest for the homeless

I refer to the letter by Sarah Leung ("Open sports centres for homeless", October 20).

I do agree that opening sports centres can provide places to sleep for homeless people. They would also have an opportunity to have a shower.

Obviously, there is a downside to such an arrangement as the street sleepers could create hygiene problems in these buildings.

There would have to be clear rules set out for them to follow and people checking they were followed so that they could open on time and in good order for public use in the morning.

They would have a secure place to sleep overnight and then would have to pack up their belongings and leave by 6.30am so that the sports centres could open at 7am. I think this would be a good arrangement especially during inclement weather, such as during heavy rainstorms or when a typhoon signal is up.

Yeung King-fan, Sai Kung

Street sleepers decline welfare payments

I refer to the letter from Michael Chow ("Government must address housing issue", October 13).

The problem of homeless people in Hong Kong is getting worse, but I do not think the government should be blamed for this or ordered to tackle the problem.

It has been trying its best to build more subsidised flats and increase the supply to meet the massive demand. However, there is already a long waiting list. If homeless people also applied for these flats that list would become even longer.

I reckon that most street sleepers are probably eligible for the Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) scheme. This would give them money to buy essentials.

The problem is that many of them are not willing to join this scheme and do not seek benefits of any kind. There is not much that can be done if they decline to apply for CSSA.

Hazel Kong Wing-hang, Ma On Shan

Bullies will use 'dislike' button on Facebook

Last month Facebook announced that it was testing a new "dislike" button.

The "like" button has already proved popular on Facebook and other social network websites.

Sometimes it feels as if there are not enough of these options for people to express their feelings.

However, I have misgivings about this new proposed dislike button.

One of the main disadvantages is that it would make cyberbullying easier. If one person pressed the button and then all his friends did the same you could have a situation where strong disapproval is expressed against someone.

It might also discourage someone from posting material that they care about that they fear could be considered too controversial.

They would be concerned that they would get a huge and negative response, being deluged with dislikes. Many people going online are seeking some form of approval.

They will therefore sit on the fence rather than say what they really feel online, fearing that if they freely express strong views they will pay a heavy emotional price for that. I think Facebook's proposed dislike button will bring more harm than benefit.

Abby Luk, Kowloon City

Need good plumbers and philosophers

Paul Yip is concerned about the over-emphasis on examinations and preparation for university in Hong Kong schools, and the lack of emphasis on vocational education ("Poverty rate has fallen, but has quality of life risen in HK?" October 24).

The same unfortunate trend exists in the United States.

Former US secretary of health, education and welfare, the late John W. Gardner, warned us of the consequences of this policy.

He said, "The society which scorns excellence in plumbing as a humble activity and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because it is an exalted activity will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy: neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water."

Stephen Krashen, professor emeritus, University of Southern California, US