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Primary Care Development in Hong Kong and Overseas

Primary care development in the global perspective

At the International Conference on Primary Health Care in Alma Ata that was held more than 30 years ago, a visionary declaration that primary care was the key to ‘Health for All’ was made. This set the scene for international efforts to promote primary care and formally acknowledged the pivotal role of a robust primary care system. Many countries striving to develop or strengthen their primary care systems recognise the key role of primary care as the foundation of effective healthcare systems. The need to enhance primary care was reaffirmed in the World Health Organization's World Health Report 2008 - Primary Health Care: Now More Than Ever and further stressed by the 2009 World Health Assembly’s resolution on primary care policies. The WHO Regional Committee for the Western Pacific endorsed the ‘Western Pacific Regional Strategy for Health Systems Based on the Values of Primary Health Care’ in its 61st session in October 2010. The values of primary health care to be considered for health systems, as contained in the ‘Regional Strategy’, include equity, social justice, universality, people-centredness, community protection, participation, scientific soundness, personal responsibility, self-determination, and self-reliance.

Primary care development in the local perspective

In Hong Kong, the Government has taken steps to improve primary care in the public system since 1990. In 2008, the Government proposed a comprehensive and integrated package of proposals for reforming the health care system in the consultation document "Your Health, Your Life", in which emphasis was placed on enhancing primary care. The responses from public consultation confirmed a broad-based support for reforming the existing health care system and strengthening primary care.

To develop a strategic plan to enhance and develop primary care in Hong Kong, the Secretary for Food and Health tasked the Working Group on Primary Care (WGPC) under the Health and Medical Development Advisory Committee (HMDAC) in October 2008 to make recommendations in this regard. Based on the recommendations of the WGPC, with input from healthcare professionals and other relevant stakeholders, the Food and Health Bureau has formulated an overall primary care development strategy for Hong Kong. A web-based version of the Primary Care Development in Hong Kong: Strategy Document, which sets out the benefits of good primary care and the major strategies and pathways of action that will help us deliver high quality primary care in Hong Kong, was published in December 2010. The major strategies to improve primary care in Hong Kong include :

  • Develop comprehensive care by multi-disciplinary teams
  • Improve continuity of care for individuals
  • Improve co-ordination of care among healthcare professionals across different sectors
  • Strengthen preventive approach to tackle major disease burden
  • Enhance inter-sectoral collaboration to improve the availability of quality care, especially care for chronic disease patients
  • Emphasise person-centred care and patient empowerment
  • Support professional development and quality improvement
  • Strengthen organisational and infrastructural support for the changes

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