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Mainland, HK, Macao to boost healthcare
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Health officials of the mainland and Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions (SARs) on Friday agreed to enhance cooperation.

Minister of Health Chen Zhu, Hong Kong's Secretary for Food and Health York Chow and Macao's Director of Health Koi Huok-ieng discussed health and medical issues at the Sixth Joint Meeting of Senior Health Officials in Hong Kong.

One of the latest cooperation measures they agreed on was to hold a drill to test the three sides' preparations to deal with a bird flu outbreak. The first drill, called "Great Wall", was conducted in November last year.

The latest exercise will test the emergency response and notification systems in case the deadly H5N1 virus is transmitted from human to human.

They also agreed to set up an "Expert Group on Prevention and Control of Influenza Pandemic" early next year.

After the meeting, Chen said the focus at this year's joint meeting shifted from surveillance, prevention and control of infectious diseases to chronic diseases and cancer.

The three sides will meet on the mainland some time next year to exchange their experiences, he said.

At the next meeting, they will discuss how better hygiene and public health can ensure a safe Beijing Olympic Games, with Hong Kong as one of the host cities.

It's the common responsibility of the three sides to promote traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) to benefit not only the Chinese, but also people across the world, he said.

Elaborating on the initiatives, Chow said the joint drill would be held next month because the risk of a bird flu outbreak is higher in winter.

Pandemic experts from the mainland, Hong Kong, Macao and well-known international academics will also be invited to join the expert group to study effective control measures against a pandemic, he said.

Details of a memorandum of understanding on TCM between the mainland and Hong Kong, such as training of doctors and hospital administration, will be made public on November 24, he said.

In his opening speech at the meeting, Chen said the central health authorities would help medical professionals from Hong Kong and Macao to practice on the mainland.

And the mainland and Hong Kong and Macao SARS should complement each other in contributing to the development of medical research.

(China Daily November 10, 2007)

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