HKMA Public Education

The Association and the Public

The Hong Kong Medical Association has long been concerned about public health.

Understanding that educating the public of healthcare knowledge is the best way to prevent ailments, the HKMA has been playing an active role in public education and has organized numerous educational programmes or activities. The earliest public educational project is the Letter Box for Common Knowledge in Medicine which was initiated in September 1972 and discontinued in 1977. Answers were distributed to all Chinese newspapers and magazines. The most long-lived project is probably the Radio Doctor Programme which was commenced on 6 July 1974 at the Radio Hong Kong. The first part of this weekly half-hour programme was devoted to a short discussion on specific subjects while the greater part of the programme consisted of questions and answers. Questions from callers were received in the studio and the answers were broadcast on the spot. After 26 years, this weekly phone-in Radio Doctor Programme is still running at the Chinese channel of Radio Hong Kong.

"Doctor & You", a half-hour TV programme on valuable health knowledge, is also one of the most successful projects. Jointly produced by the RTHK and the Association, this popular programme has been on air for over a decade. The first series in 1979 was broadcast live and had a phone-in session. In 1989, audience's participation in the production was introduced so that the distance between doctors and public were shortened. Over the years, there has been a number of lady moderators including Ms. Pamela Pak in 1979, Ms. Hing-yu Tsang in 1985, Ms. Mary Cheung in 1986,89 & 90, Ms. Lee Sze Kei in 1992, Ms. Candice Yu On On in 1993 and Ms. Elizabeth Lee in 1994-95. What remains unchanged is our most revered moderator, Dr. Lee Kin Hung, whose authoritative and benevolent image becomes the trademark of the show.

From time to time, the Association joined hands with the Urban Council and community groups to give public health talks, though it was more cost-effective to disseminate common medical knowledge through the TV and radio programmes. To celebrate its 75th Anniversary, the Association joined hands with the Urban Council to organize a series of health talks between August to November. The talks enjoyed enormous success as places for every seminar were snapped up long before they started. Moreover, the Association had organized numerous health exhibitions throughout the years and disseminated health information through various newspapers as well as magazines. Furthermore, the Association had cooperated with prestigious publishers such as Longman, Publications (Holdings) Limited and Unicorn Publishers to publish health books which ranked amongst the bestsellers.

The HKMA has been working ceaselessly to improve public health by closely monitoring public health issues. In the earlier days, lots of efforts have been put in school health programmes. Nowadays, the Association is keeping an watchful eye on the development of medical and socio-medical issues including blood-alcohol content related to drink driving, Patients' Records and Confidentiality, and Professional Autonomy after 1997. The Association contributes medical views on various issues and publicizes them at regular press briefings and conferences.

One of the greatest zeal of the Association is the advocation of cadaveric organ donation. The HKMA Organ Donation Register Fund Limited was set up in 1994 to keep an organized computer record of information of donors who pledge to donate their organs after death. With the computerized register up and running, authorized personnel from hospitals and transplant centres can have instant and round the clock access to the willing donors' database to check the wish of the deceased whom they encountered. In this way, it will help relatives of the deceased to make an informed and easier decision on authorizing donation of their loved ones' organs.

As publicity of the concept of cadaveric organ donation is very important, the Association has been promoting the message of cadaveric organ donation frequently since 1993. One of the publicity programmes held was the Walk for Organ Donation around the Peak on 26 March 1995 held in conjunction with Central & Western District Board. More than 400 people participated in the Walk, including the Guest of Honour, Mrs. Shelley Lau, the then Deputy Secretary for Health and Welfare. A number of volunteer groups, including those in the insurance industry, helped in staging events to solicit organ donation pledges of people from all walks of life. A territory-wide campaign - the HKMA Organ Donation Week was held in December 1995 with the cooperation of 18 District Boards. As the message of cadaveric organ donation spread wider among the public, more and more donation pledges flood in every day which is indeed encouraging to everybody.

The Association is also an advocate of an integrated health care system. To facilitate the sharing of patients' information among doctors in various sectors and other health personnel for better patient care, the HKMA publishes the Patient-Held Record which is filled in by all doctors or other health personnel who have attended the patient. This booklet is handy and can be carried along by the patients. It provides useful on-hand information to the attending doctors or health personnel to ensure efficient referral, timely admission to hospital and proper continuous care, particularly in emergency situation. This useful booklet can be purchased by any interested party at the HKMA.

Last but not least, the Association has been working hard to uphold the standard and image of the medical profession to foster a healthy doctor-patient relationship. A set of Patients' Rights has been formed together with the Consumer Council and great efforts were made to publicize them to the public through posters, pamphlets and various public education programmes. Another issue of great concern is the illegal sales of drugs which are likely to be abused by addicts, particularly young people. To help prosecuting those culprits of our society and to stop them from poisoning our young people, a special hotline for Report on Illegal Sale of Drugs (2528 6644) was set up at the HKMA. All phone-in reports would be recorded and handed in to the Department of Health for further action.