Representatives from the World Health Organization (WHO) Saturday praised the
Hong Kong government's clinical management practices against severe acute
respiratory syndrome (SARS), describing its practices as exemplary.
One representative also openly acknowledged the benefit of using Chinese
medicine for treating SARS.
The first remarks came from two WHO representatives Mark Salter and Mike Ryan
during a press conference after attending the two-day SARS Clinical Management
Workshop with more than 120 medical experts from around the world to share
clinical experience on combating SARS.
"I think probably the first line in the most effective modalities we've seen
in controlling SARS around the globe has been the rapid implementation of
appropriate infection control measures," said Salter.
"We've seen that come to the fore very much in Hong Kong as soon as people
became aware that SARS is a new deadly disease, such that in the intervening few
weeks, we have seen the number of cases occurring in Hong Kong rapidly decline.
"Such as in the last few days, we haven't seen any more new cases.... So I
think that is exemplary," said Salter.
He also praised the Hong Kong government's installation of facilities at the
Hong Kong International Airport to screen for the abnormally high bodily
temperatures of passengers, airport's staff and members of air crews, saying
that such are also exemplary.
"We've expressed our delight saying to the secretary (the Hong Kong
government's Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food E. K. Yeoh), and how this
should be really disseminated to other countries in the world, who can then also
put in such systems to reduce the risk of having problems of SARS in future," he
Mike Ryan also praised the Hong Kong government for already taking swift
steps to control the spread the disease at a time when the world was still
unaware of the seriousness of the disease.
"The transparency of the Hong Kong authority, in terms of sharing information
with WHO and the rapidity of the screening at the airport and the inter-sectoral
collaboration between the public health, the clinical management and the police
to follow upon the contact tracing, is taken for granted, but extremely
difficult to put in place," he said.
"I think you have to judge the response on the basis of the capacity of the
system, as it responded to this outbreak, and that also explains the way Hong
Kong, Toronto and other places have managed this outbreak on behalf of the
world's population. This is a global phenomenon. This outbreak had the potential
of spreading globally....
"So the world expresses their gratitude to Hong Kong and a number of cities
who manage to do it on behalf of the world's population," Ryan said.
On the Chinese mainland's using combined Chinese and western medicine
treatments for SARS at predominantly Chinese mainland hospitals, Salter said he
is sure that Chinese medicine carries "significant benefits," and the
international community continues to closely examine the benefits of Chinese
"I am sure that there are significant benefits. I know that there are a
number of international establishments around the world which are examining very
closely the benefits of Chinese medicines, and I am sure that in the future, we
will see them.