The Hong Kong government’s overall spending on health is expected to rise by almost 18 per cent in 2021-22 to HK$115.8 billion, as the city presses on with efforts to curb Covid-19 infections and improve services.

According to a document accompanying Finance Secretary Paul Chan’s 2021-22 budget speech on Wednesday, the Department of Health will receive a total of HK$5.2 billion over the next three years for “various measures in handling Covid-19.”

Department of Health staff Cheuk Ming Building
Staff from the Department of Health visit Cheuk Ming Building in Tsuen Wan on May13. It is the residence of one of the newly infected patients. Photo: Jimmy Lam/United Social Press.

Of this, HK$111 million will be spent on implementing the Hong Kong Health Code and “gradually resuming full services of Boundary Control Points” between Hong Kong, Macau and mainland China.

Another HK$27 million will help fund IT systems to implement anti-epidemic measures.

“I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to those joining the fight against the epidemic, including healthcare staff as well as businesses and individuals who have been supporting the government’s anti‑epidemic measures,” Chan told legislators.

Chan vowed to provide “adequate resources” to fight the spread of coronavirus.

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Hong Kong’s free mass vaccination programme starts for the general public on Friday, with the most vulnerable citizens prioritised. The government has previously pledged HK$8.4 billion to buy and administer the vaccines.

Other medical services

Chan also allocated HK$500 million for the promotion of Chinese medicine in Hong Kong. Construction of the Tseung Kwan O Chinese Medicine Hospital is expected to be completed in 2025.

A sum of HK$147 million has been pledged to hospital and community psychiatric services to enhance both juvenile and elderly mental health services run by the Hospital Authority [HA], the secretary said. The sum of HK$124 million will go towards the authority’s cancer services.

In total the government’s health spending is set to account for 15.9 per cent of total expenditure in the coming fiscal year.

“Under the current epidemic, the HA will utilise the resources to further enhance public hospitals’ capability in managing infectious diseases,” Hospital Authority Chairman, Mr Henry Fan said in response.

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