I would like to extend a very warm welcome to all of you who have travelled from far and near to this beautiful and dynamic city of Hong Kong SAR, China, to attend the Tenth International Conference of Drug Regulatory Authorities. As mentioned by Professor Hildebrandt, Hong Kong has undergone historical change since 1997. Indeed, on 1 July we will be celebrating the fifth anniversary of Hong Kong’s reunification with her Motherland. This historical reunification has given us a new status, a different perspective and more opportunities to collaborate with fellow professionals from the Member States of the World Health Organization. The holding of the Tenth ICDRA in Hong Kong, China, is one example of such collaboration, and is an opportunity for which we feel very honoured. We would like to thank WHO, Mainland China and fellow drug regulators from different countries for their support.
The Planning Committee has worked diligently with WHO to put together a stimulating programme for this Conference, with emphasis on challenges confronting drug regulators from developed and developing countries alike. Just to give a few examples: the problems of counterfeit drugs, from which no country is immune; the regulatory challenges related to the safety, quality and efficacy of herbal medicines, which are widely used throughout the world but not fully regulated; the issue of access to essential drugs and vaccines, especially in places and by persons where the need is the greatest. We will also discuss the potential and challenges of new technology, biotechnology and e-commerce. Last but not least, we will touch upon the importance, value and impact of harmonization, and the emergence of regional initiatives in this area. I am sure you will find the programme exciting and stimulating, and I look forward to your active participation and frank discussion in the next few days, in the spirit of sharing experiences, promoting collaboration and building consensus on important matters.
Finally, as Chair of the Organizing Committee, I would like to thank WHO, the many individuals and organizations within and outside China, and the SAR authorities for advice and guidance. I would also like to thank my dedicated team of staff who have worked day and night for months to make this conference a reality, and I hope you will enjoy the programme.