Published: 13:07, May 29, 2024 | Updated: 13:39, May 29, 2024
Lo: Smoking prevalence in HK at all-time low of about 9.1%
By Wang Zhan
Hong Kong’s Secretary for Health, Professor Lo Chung-mau (third right), and Director of Health, Dr Ronald Lam (second left) meet with Director for Regulation and Prequalification of the World Health Organization, Dr Rogério Gaspar (third left) and other WHO officials in Geneva, Switzerland, May 28, 2024. (PHOTO / HKSAR GOVT)

Hong Kong's smoking prevalence is now attaining an all-time low of about 9.1 percent, compared with 23 percent in early 1980s, thanks to the city’s efforts in tobacco control over the past 40 years, according to the secretary for health.

“Our target is to further lower the smoking prevalence to 7.8 percent by 2025,” Professor Lo Chung-mau said on Tuesday at a meeting with World Health Organization Regional Director for the Western Pacific, Dr Saia Ma'u Piukala, in Geneva, Switzerland.

ALSO READ: Achieving universal health coverage is ultimate goal, says Lo

The HKSAR government will keep on maintaining close contact with member states and areas of the WHO on various issues to safeguard the health of citizens.

Lo Chung-mau, Secretary for Health, HKSAR

To achieve the target, the special administrative region government is examining the implementation of different tobacco control measures in phases, said Lo, who was attending the 77th World Health Assembly of the WHO, running from May 27 to June 1.

He also told Piukala that the HKSAR government has been contributing to safeguarding global public health by acting along the Chinese mainland’s health strategies, and has also been strenuously supporting and acting in concert with the WHO and the mainland in tackling various public health challenges.

“Dr Saia Ma'u Piukala was impressed by the HKSAR government's efforts in promoting tobacco control and the development of primary healthcare,” said the health chief.

As members of the Chinese delegation, Prof Lo and Director of Health Dr Ronald Lam Man Kin attended the plenary session on the second day of the WHA while Vice-minister of the National Health Commission Cao Xuetao addressed the plenary session on healthcare development in the mainland.

Secretary for Health Prof Lo Chung-mau (left) presents to WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific, Dr Saia Ma'u Piukala a souvenir stamp commemorating the fight against COVID-19 by Hong Kong healthcare professionals in Geneva, Switzerland, on May 28, 2024. (PHOTO / HKSAR GOVT)

They also exchanged views with senior officials of the WHO on various public health-related issues.

READ MORE: HK govt to establish new dept to enhance community healthcare services

Secretary for Health Prof Lo Chung-mau (front row, center), and Director of Health Dr Ronald Lam (front row, third right) meet with the Unit Head of Global Influenza Programme of the World Health Organization Dr Zhang Wenqing (front row, third left) in Geneva, Switzerland, on May 28, 2024. (PHOTO / HKSAR GOVT)

While meeting Dr Zhang Wenqing, unit head of the WHO’s global influenza program, Prof Lo introduced to her the measures taken by Hong Kong in combating influenza.

Attendees of the meeting agreed that strengthening surveillance on influenza viruses, clinical investigations, research, development, and manufacturing of vaccines, as well as public publicity and education, are all vital moves to combat influenza.

At a meeting with Dr Rogério Gaspar, director for Regulation and Prequalification of the WHO, the Hong Kong health chief briefed him on the enhancement of the prevailing regulatory, approval, and registration mechanism of drugs, and the latest developments of promoting the research and development and clinical trial of drugs and medical devices in Hong Kong and collaboration of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area.

Both parties exchanged views on boosting the regulatory regime of drugs and medical devices and the WHO global benchmarking tool for the evaluation of regulatory systems of medical products.

They expressed support for further enhancement of the regulatory mechanism of drugs and medical devices in Hong Kong for more effective collaboration with drug regulatory authorities worldwide in public health protection.

Secretary for Health Prof Lo Chung-mau (left) presents two books published by the Department of Health under the titles of “Hong Kong Characteristic Medicinal Plants” and “Compendium on Identification of Easily Confused Species of Chinese Materia Medica in Hong Kong by Macroscopic and Microscopic Characteristics” to First Deputy Minister of Healthcare of the Republic of Kazakhstan Timur Sultangaziyev in Geneva, Switzerland, on May 28, 2024. (PHOTO / HKSAR GOVT)

Prof Lo and Dr Lam also met with Timur Sultangaziyev, First Deputy Minister of Healthcare of the Republic of Kazakhstan, to discuss issues including promoting traditional medicine, nurturing healthcare talent, and primary healthcare development.