It is a great privilege and honour for Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of China to host the Tenth International Conference of Drug Regulatory Authorities. The conference provides a unique forum where drug regulators can share experiences, discuss topics of common interest, and address issues of concern. I am delighted to see more than 200 participants from over 100 countries taking part in this very important international conference.
The objective of drug regulation is to ensure the availability of good quality, safe and effective pharmaceutical products to the public. To this end, WHO, in collaboration with a number of government agencies and individual experts, has developed and established clear and practical guidelines aimed at ensuring the quality and safety of drugs. Substantial progress has been achieved throughout the world over the years, but much remains to be done.
Lack of essential drugs, inappropriate use of drugs and poor quality medicines continue to pose serious threats to health in many parts of the world. At the same time we face new issues arising from globalization, the development of free trade, traditional medicines, and the rapid introduction of innovative treatments. Increasingly sophisticated technologies and techniques in health care, and extensive use of the Internet as a means of communication, present new challenges. However, these developments also provide us all with unique opportunities and it is important that we make the most of them.
To protect public health and to meet the expectations and needs of the people of Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government has formulated a comprehensive plan to develop and regulate traditional Chinese medicine, to integrate Chinese medicine into mainstream health service systems, and to support research to revive the evidence base for clinical practice. There are formidable challenges facing the development of Chinese medicine, including the need to set standards for professional practice and drug regulation, broaden research to encompass Chinese medicines, maximize the economic potential, and develop policies to ensure that the system benefits the people who use it.
I am sure many of these issues will be addressed in this Conference and that, by working together, we will find practical and effective solutions. Through our joint efforts, we should be able to realize the maximum potential of technical advances to bring better health to all people.