(Hong Kong, 19 August 2018) Through its vast network of 43 public hospitals and institutions, 48 specialist out-patient clinics and 73 general out-patient clinics, the Hospital Authority (HA) manages and provides a comprehensive range of public hospital services for the citizens in Hong Kong.
In 2017/2018, the HA specialist out-patient clinics served nearly eight million patients.
Despite increases in funding, prioritisation processes constraint the fast and broad inclusion of certain effective diagnostic and treatments, rendering such options available only if self-financed.
At present, medical expenses of patients eligible for Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) Scheme, the Community Care Fund and the Samaritan Fund are well covered. Yet, many households marginally outside this safety net will likely be cycled out of their financial stability when a family member faces escalating medical bills currently not covered by the HA. Witnessing the tremendous emotional and financial stress for these families, many healthcare professionals are empathetic but unable to help patients caught in such hapless situation.
Through a revolving funding arrangement with the HA, The University of Hong Kong (HKU) and The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), Mr Li initiated “Love Can Help” programme to offer financial assistance to patients who fall outside of Government subsidy programmes, “like a friend to someone in need.”
1. Subsidy of HK$5,000 for two “self-financed procedures” under the HA
A. HK$10 million to co-pay for PET-CT Services
PET-CT scans for the detections and diagnoses for cancer and other diseases in public hospitals are in the self-financed category. “Love Can Help” will offer a flat HK$5,000 subsidy for each qualified case. HK$10 million will benefit 2,000 patients each year.
B. HK$20 million to support PCI Stents
“Love Can Help” will offer a flat HK$5,000 subsidy for each qualified case. A contribution of HK$20 million will enable 4,000 patients to benefit each year.
“Love Can Help” is designed to be a criteria-free, no means test programme serving patients who are not eligible for CSSA or Medical Assistance Programmes under the Community Care Fund and the Samaritan Fund. The Foundation and the HA will further work out funding methodologies.
2. HK$35 million to facilitate a PET-CT Center in New Territories West Cluster
As proposed by the HA, the Foundation will donate HK$35 million to facilitate the setting up of a PET-CT Center in New Territories West Cluster. Services are expected to come on line as early as mid-2020. PET-CT is one of the most effective detections for early diagnoses and monitoring of cancer and relevant diseases. Access to a PET-CT Center in the New Territories West Cluster would cut down long travel time for patients residing in the New Territories. The new Center located at Tuen Mun Hospital is expected to serve 1,900 patients annually when it comes into operation.
3. HK$35 million in support of HKU Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine and CUHK Faculty of Medicine
In addition to the support we gave for advancing research, the Foundation will further provide a HK$35 million grant to subsidise patients seeking selective advance treatment at their respective teaching hospitals. Each of the medical faculties will receive HK$17.5 million in funding.
The HKU Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine will focus on patients suffering from chronic illness, cancer, autoimmune disease and patients on rehabilitation.
The focus will be on over 260 patients in urgent need of assistance, such as patients suffering from:
• Severe persistent Asthma-Bronchial Thermoplasty
• Severe Intractable Chronic Pain-Spinal Cord Stimulation
• Young patients with Amputation – Computer assisted artificial limbs
• ANCA vasculitis and anti-MDA5 patients
• Inoperable Neuroendocrine Tumours – Peptide Receptor Radionuclide Therapy
CUHK proposed two major projects on novel therapeutic drugs and devices for over 260 cancer patients and patients suffering from autoimmune disease.
A. Novel therapeutic drugs or devices for cancer patients which significantly alter the disease course or reduce bothersome complications, for example: Prosthesis for paediatric patients after osteosarcoma surgery; Novel rescue therapy for recurrent cancer which does not respond to conventional first and second line treatments; Endoscopic biliary stenting for non-primary cancer with extrinsic compression (e.g. hepatocellular carcinoma, lymphoma, etc.)
B. Novel treatment with biologics for life-threatening complication or rescue therapy of autoimmune disease, such as Rituximab for disabling autoimmune encephalitis, refractory acute flare of myasthenia gravis, multiple sclerosis, and neuromyelitis optica; Biologics (Infliximab, adalimumab, vedolizumab) for acute severe ulcerative colitis unresponsive to first line immunosuppressive drugs, post-operative recurrence of Crohn’s disease, refractory Crohn’s disease unresponsive to anti-TNF; Rituximab for refractory, life-threatening vasculitis, myositis and systemic lupus erythematosus.
When Does It Start?
“Love Can Help” is a HK$100 million pilot programme that is slated to begin operating in early 2019.
How Long Will the Programme Last?
Upon successful execution of the initiate year trial, we plan for it to be included in the Foundation’s budget for longer-term projects.
In 2013, the Li Ka Shing Foundation and the CK Group made a joint contribution of HK$500 million to the Community Care Fund. While CCF already offers assistance to people with financial difficulties, the Foundation hopes that “Love Can Help” can cast a wider safety net for those outside the CCF coverage.
About the Li Ka Shing Foundation
Established in 1980, the Li Ka Shing Foundation (LKSF) has invested over HK$20 billion to work on education, medical services and research initiatives globally, with about 80% of the projects within the Greater China region. In 2006, Mr. Li described his philanthropic effort as akin to having another son in the family. He called for a paradigm shift in our Asian culture of giving, through apportioning more of our wealth and means towards social capital so that we could bring forth great hope and promises for the future.
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