Healthcare services in Hong Kong is often described as excellent by international standards.
The Hospital Authority, a health arm of the government, manages 41 hospitals spread across the territory. Public hospitals are heavily subsidized by the government that residents — those who hold valid Hong Kong ID — pay as little as HK$100 for hospital admission, medicine, food and consultation. All one needs to do is to show his or her Hong Kong ID for registration.
However, prior appointment is requirement and this could take weeks, if not months, depending on number of cases being accommodated. Emergency and critical cases, obviously, are given immediate assistance. For emergency cases, call 999 to avail of ambulance and paramedic service which is also funded by the government.
With the occasional long queues and isolated cases of malpractice that cause fear among patients and families, private hospitals arguably offer more immediate care and staff presumably with lesser workload but can be much more costly especially those without medical insurance coverage.
Hong Kong is relatively healthy place to stay with no major outbreaks since avian and SARS in the past several years.
But just like everywhere else, there are a few health issues expats and locals should be aware of.
Hong Kong is located at the mouth of China’s Pearl River Delta which is home to industrial hubs and apparent source of air pollution. The pollution problem has somewhat eased in the past few years but remains a concern. Other forms of pollution are noise from construction and vehicle movement, and light pollution such as bright lights at night which may cause sleeping disorder.
Before the recent case of lead contamination erupted, Hong Kong’s drinking water is treated and safe to drink from tap. However, boiling and use of water filter at home are sensible precautionary measures. Drinking bottled water or setting up water dispenser from water retailers and distributors is a general practice.
Although agencies like the Food and Environment Health Department strictly supervises preparation of food and strictly enforces hygienic practices among food preparation, it is always pays to play it safe. Food should be prepared by washing fruits and vegetables thoroughly before cooking to remove traces of pesticides and other contaminants.
The government is vigilant against possible outbreak of seasonal diseases such as dengue fever for mosquito-borne infections with reminders on TV and other media outlets. Vaccinations are widely available across government clinics and hospitals especially for young children and elderly population. Screening for types of cancer — prostate, colon, breast, and others — are also conducted in coordination between government and third party organizations.
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