Expediting the achievement of the ‘healthy city’ target
MR CHAN CHUN-YING (in Cantonese): Deputy President, as mentioned by several Honourable colleagues earlier, the World Health Organization (“WHO”) launched the Healthy Cities programme in 1986, endeavouring to engage the international community in improving health services and living conditions, with a view to promoting the physical and mental health of urban residents through the collaborative efforts of the public, private, voluntary and community sectors.
However, it was not until 1997 (i.e. 11 years after WHO proposed the initiative) that Hong Kong’s first Healthy Cities project was initiated in Tseung Kwan O by the Haven of Hope Christian Service. The project adopted a bottom-up approach to facilitate the building up of partnership relationship across sectors at the community level for jointly solving local problems with local solutions through local resources. This helped to cultivate a sense of shared ownership and responsibility of building the community among stakeholders. Although the project was spearheaded by a non-governmental organization, it received full support from the Sai Kung District Council. Regardless of the result, it was a step forward towards the ideal target.
Since then, similar projects were successively launched in different ways in other districts. In December 2019, the SAR Government announced that Hong Kong would join the Partnership for Healthy Cities, a global network of 70 cities committed to saving lives by preventing non-communicable diseases, such as cancer or diabetes, meaning that it was not until 33 years after WHO proposed the initiative that the Government finally took up the leading role in promoting the building of a “healthy city”.
I would like to thank Mr Tony TSE for moving the motion on “Expediting the achievement of the ‘healthy city’ target” and the other Honourable colleagues for proposing their amendments today, urging the SAR Government to expeditiously enable Hong Kong people to lead a healthier, easier and happier life in such areas as healthcare, dining, living and commuting. I believe that no one will object to enjoying a healthier life, so I will support the original motion.
Deputy President, health is more than the absence of disease or infirmity. It is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being. However, health is not only attributable to a person’s inborn conditions and lifestyle but also subject to social, economic and other external factors.
If Hong Kong is to become a “healthy city”, it must adopt a people-oriented approach in all aspects from urban planning and construction to management, vigorously advocate a healthy lifestyle among the public and provide excellent healthcare services to ensure that the general public can live and work healthily. Although we are not aiming at creating a utopia, we can at least create an environment where our next generation can grow up healthily.
Deputy President, in April 2018, the National Health Commission issued a paper titled “National Healthy City Evaluation Indicator System” (《全國健康城 市評價指標體系》). Closely adhered to the target and mission of building healthy cities in our country, it seeks to guide the cities to improve their natural environment, social environment and health services, so as to cater for the health needs of residents and achieve coordinated development of urban construction and people’s health. With a total of 67 indicators classified into first, second and third levels, this indicator system can reflect the overall progress of healthy city development in each place more objectively.
At the end of 2019, the office of the National Patriotic Public Health Campaign Committee commenced an evaluation of all the national health cities based on the aforesaid criteria. A total of 314 cities or districts had submitted the information required for evaluation. The results showed that healthy city development in various places had made steady progress with enhanced governance standards. Improvements were notable especially in several areas such as environment, services and culture. At the same time, the cities or districts making the fastest progress were commended.
The crux of the concept of “healthy cities” lies in the implementation process. However, after WHO has launched the Healthy Cities movement for 36 years, it is still unclear whether the desired results can be achieved. As the building of “healthy cities” is a comprehensive concept which involves not only the medical and health departments led by Secretary Prof LO Chung-mau but also a large number of departments related to environmental protection, transport, education, home affairs and so on, progress can only be made if there is coordination by the Government, collaboration among the departments and wide public participation.
Frankly speaking, all along, this issue has not received much attention from the community. I hope that the SAR Government can, by drawing reference from our country’s “National Healthy City Evaluation Indicator System” mentioned just now, formulate indicators and evaluation methods for “healthy city” development in line with the actual situation of Hong Kong and encourage active participation of community organizations, so that Hong Kong can become a safer and more liveable city.
I so submit.