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HCPF Thematic Priorities 2014

Priority for funding is given to applications targeting underprivileged groups who are vulnerable to ill-health, and health promotion programmes carried out in primary care settings. To sustain the effects of health promotion interventions, multidisciplinary approaches and cross-sectoral collaborations engaging the community to create supportive environments and to empower individuals to take ownership of their health are keys to success. Higher funding priorities will be accorded to the following thematic areas:

I. Tobacco control

While smoking is well known to cause many fatal diseases and cancers, continuous effort is required to put “what we know” into “what we do”. Measures to prevent and reduce tobacco exposure include:

  • Motivating smokers, in particular middle-aged men and women, to cease smoking and empowering them to forego cigarettes during the times of day when they face their toughest smoking triggers and peers; and
  • Exhorting youth, women or high-stress career workers to abstain from tobacco use and connecting them with proven evidence of its damage to health.

II. Lifestyle, nutrition and physical activity

Adopting a healthy lifestyle, healthy diet and regular physical exercise are fundamental for preventing many chronic diseases. Community involvement to complement government initiatives in fostering active living, healthy eating, tackling overweight/obesity and promoting a healthy workplace will benefit specific groups by:

  • Enabling optimal young child feeding practices such as increasing consumption of fruits & vegetables and reducing intake of sugar-sweetened snacks & beverages;
  • Enhancing the availability of affordable healthy food and beverages to families and decision makers of schools;
  • Empowering the younger generation to adopt healthy lifestyle practices such as avoiding unhealthy habits, excessive screen time activities including internet addiction, high-risk sexual activities, alcohol and drug misuse, and maintaining balanced diet and healthy body mass index;
  • Increasing the public’s awareness and knowledge of balanced diet by taking the food pyramid as reference and to increase fruit and vegetables consumption and reduce salt consumption in their diet;
  • Motivating employers to create a safe and healthy working environment that supports the working population, who are in general at risk of lifestyle-related diseases. Actions include modification of the physical environment, enhancement of organisational policies and provision of personal health skills to the workforce; and
  • Increasing physical activity participation and reducing sedentary lifestyle in the general population.

III. Mental well-being

Good mental health is an integral part of good overall health. Mental well-being promotion incorporates any action taken to maximise mental health and well-being among population and individuals by addressing the potentially modifiable determinants of mental health. Childhood, adolescence and old age are critical life stages that require careful attention. Family, school, workplace and community are all important settings for mental well-being promotion. Actions are required to maintain and enhance mental well-being by:

  • Building mentally friendly policies, practices and atmospheres that reduce/relieve stress experienced by individuals;
  • Promoting social values that respect difference and diversity;
  • Raising public awareness and understanding of the ways to mental well-being as well as mental health literacy (e.g. common mental disorders, dementia);
  • Reducing stigma against people with and recovering from mental disorders;
  • Building relevant knowledge and personal skills that are targeted at the whole population, and tailored for different life stages and different settings (e.g. school, workplace), according to the specific needs, risks and protective factors;
  • Empowering parents, carers and teachers to understand, promote and respond to issues related to the mental health and well-being of children and adolescents; and
  • Encouraging active and healthy ageing.

IV. Injury prevention

Injury causes significant mortality and morbidity in the community. Emphasis is placed on injury prevention which covers domestic injury, sports injury, falls and drowning/near drowning by:

  • Encouraging community stakeholders to take the lead in coordinating actions to prevent or reduce injuries;
  • Identifying environmental and behavioural risk factors of vulnerable populations; and
  • Facilitating effective communication of injury data, development and implementation of prevention programmes that involve more extensive collaboration amongst public and private sectors, academics, professional groups and non-governmental organisations.

V. Reducing alcohol-related problems

Alcohol consumption is a risk factor for many health and societal problems. Special attention is paid to the increasing trend of underage drinking and alcohol-related harms. Effective measures are through:

  • Engaging important stakeholder groups such as doctors, celebrities, educational institutions, parents, to denounce the use or promotion of alcohol;
  • Preventing binge drinking, in particular among young adults;
  • Increasing awareness and knowledge of immediate and long-term harmful effects of alcohol consumption, in particular the carcinogenic effects of alcohol, as well as diseases associated with alcoholism such as liver cirrhosis, stroke, coronary heart disease and hypertension; plus alcohol-related harm to others such as traffic accidents, domestic violence and sexual assault;
  • Helping young adults make informed decisions about alcohol use at the point of purchase or consumption;
  • Preventing binge drinking, in particular among young adults; Enabling young people to resist peer pressure to drink and critically appraise misleading marketing tactics deployed by alcohol industry; and
  • Empowering parents to communicate with their children on alcohol-related issues.

VI. Promoting family doctor model of care

The family doctor model of care, which emphasises continuity of care, holistic care and preventive care, is essential to primary care initiatives for better health. Awareness and understanding of this model needs to be further promoted in the community so that patients will be more receptive to the care of their family doctor and reduce doctor-shopping behaviour. The required activities include:

  • Promoting the benefits of having a family doctor as the first point of contact in the healthcare system for continuous, comprehensive, coordinated and person-centred care; and
  • Empowering the public to improve their own health and that of their family members by establishing a long term partnership with their family doctors and adopting a preventive approach in improving health.

VII. Empowering the community in the management of chronic diseases

Chronic diseases are common in the community and rise in prevalence as the local population ages. According to the two reference frameworks for diabetes mellitus and hypertension care developed by the Task Force on Conceptual Model and Preventive Protocols, of Health and Medical Development Advisory Committee, the community should be empowered so that patients and their carers are made aware of their own roles in disease prevention and management. The required activities include:

  • Equipping patients with diabetes mellitus and hypertension with the necessary knowledge and skills to properly manage these two chronic diseases and prevent complications and actively partner with their family doctors and allied health professionals in managing their diseases; and
  • Promoting to the general public the benefits and importance of supporting their family members, neighbours and friends with diabetes mellitus and hypertension in managing their health conditions.

VIII. Cancer Prevention

Cancer is a major public health problem in Hong Kong. There is an increasing trend in the number of new cancer cases and registered cancer deaths as a result of ageing population and population growth over the past few decades. It is estimated that the number of new cases of colorectal cancer, prostate cancers and female breast cancers will further increase. Primary prevention is of the utmost importance in reducing cancer risk. In some cancer cases without symptoms, identification through screening may lead to early treatment and better health outcome. The required activities include:

  • Raising public awareness and changing behaviour for primary prevention of cancer and related risk factors, such as unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, obesity, smoking and consumption of alcoh
  • Promoting cancer awareness and enable the public to recognise early warning symptoms of cancer for early detection, so as to seek prompt medical attention;
  • Enhancing public’s understanding about the potential pros and cons of screening tests for cancers, in particular for breast, colorectal and prostate cancers in order to make an informed choice; and
  • Facilitating underprivileged women such as new immigrants, women from low income families and ethnic minority groups to receive regular cervical screening to prevent cervical cancer.

Applications which fall outside these priorities will still be considered, although they will have a lower funding preference. The closing date of applications is 31 July 2014.