Plaque Unveiling Ceremonies of Two World Health Organization Units at Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, HKU

Sunday, 16 August 2015

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The School of Public Health, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine of The University of Hong Kong (HKU) hosted special ceremonies last Thursday (August 13, 2015) to unveil the plaques of respectively the WHO Collaborating Centre for Infectious Disease Epidemiology and Control, as well as a WHO H5 Reference Laboratory. The ceremonies were officiated by Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization and graced by Dr Constance Chan, Director of Health, Dr SF Leung, Director of Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation, Professor Gabriel Leung, Dean of Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, Professor SY Leung, Associate Dean (Research) of Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, and other guests.

School of Public Health, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, HKU has been designated as a WHO Collaborating Centre for Infectious Disease Epidemiology and Control for four years with effect from 10 December 2014. The Centre is headed by Professor Gabriel Leung, Chair Professor of Public Health Medicine and Dean of Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, and Professor Seto Wing-hong, Honorary Clinical Professor of our School. A WHO Collaborating Centre (WHO CC) is an institution designated by the Director-General of WHO to form part of an international collaborative network set up by WHO in support of its programme at the country, intercountry, regional, interregional and global levels. In China and HK SAR, there are a total of 59 and 6 WHO CCs respectively.

The designation of the School of Public Health as a WHO CC is the first of such kind at the University. Professor Gabriel Leung thanked the Director-General of WHO for visiting HKU and said, “HKU School of Public Health has been at the forefront of research in emerging infectious diseases and we look forward to contributing further to the work of the WHO in the control and prevention of communicable diseases and in enhancing global public health.” Professor Leung also extended thanks to Dr Constance Chan and Dr SF Leung for attending the ceremonies and remarked that “After the SARS epidemic in 2003, Government has provided strong support for the development of infectious disease epidemiology research at the University and this signal award of Collaborating Centre status by the WHO is the culmination of this important partnership between HKU and the Food and Health Bureau for the protection of the public’s health in Hong Kong and across the region.”

The Centre of Influenza Research under the School of Public Health is one of 13 laboratories worldwide designated as a WHO H5 reference laboratory. Its mandate is to provide international reference laboratory services and training on H5 and other animal influenza viruses with zoonotic or pandemic potential, to provide WHO with data and risk assessment relevant to such threats and advice on selection for relevant viruses for pre-pandemic vaccine development. As part of these responsibilities, the HKU H5 Reference Laboratory takes part in the twice yearly WHO influenza vaccine strain selection meetings. “With our established strengths in the surveillance and characterization of animal influenza viruses with potential to cause human infections, our School is keen to continue assisting the WHO in addressing zoonotic and pandemic public health threats and in promoting the One Health framework to population health,” said Professor Malik Peiris, Co-Director of the WHO H5 Reference Laboratory at HKU and Tam Wah-Ching Professor in Medical Science, Chair Professor of Virology and Director of School of Public Health.

WHO Collaborating Centres

WHO CC are institutions such as research institutes, parts of universities or academies, or governmental bodies which are designated by the Director-General to carry out activities in support of the Organization’s programmes. Currently there are over 700 WHO collaborating centres in over 80 Member States working with WHO on areas such as nursing, occupational health, communicable diseases, nutrition, mental health, chronic diseases and health technologies.

About WHO H5 Reference Laboratories 

In 2004, the WHO H5 Reference Laboratory Network was established, as an ad hoc component of the WHO Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System, in response to the public health needs arising from avian influenza A (H5N1) infection in humans and to assist in influenza pandemic preparedness. At present, there are 13 laboratories worldwide designated as a WHO H5 Reference Laboratories and the laboratory at HKU was one of these founding laboratories.

About the School of Public Health, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, HKU 

The School of Public Health, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, HKU has a long and distinguished history in public health education and high impact research. With world leading research in infectious diseases as well as on non-communicable diseases of both local and global importance, the School has made significant contributions through its research and advocacy to improve the health of populations and individuals, both locally and globally. The School is a leading research and teaching hub in public health on influenza and other emerging viruses, control of infectious and non-communicable diseases, tobacco control, air pollution, psycho-oncology, behavioral sciences, life-course epidemiology, and health economics, health services planning and management. This work has informed international (e.g. the World Health Organization, Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations), national and local public health policies.


(From Left) Professor Benjamin J. Cowling, Professor and Division Head of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Public Health, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, HKU; Dr Constance Chan, Director of Health, HKSAR Government; Professor J. S. Malik Peiris, Tam Wah-Ching Professor in Medical Science, Chair Professor of Virology and Director of the School of Public Health, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, HKU; Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of World Health Organization; Dr Leung Siu-fai, Director of Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation, HKSAR Government; Professor Gabriel M. Leung, Dean of Medicine and Co-Director of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Infectious Disease Epidemiology and Control, School of Public Health, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, HKU and Professor Seto Wing-hong, Honorary Clinical Professor, School of Public Health and Co-Director of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Infectious Disease Epidemiology and Control, School of Public Health, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, HKU.


(From Left) Professor J. S. Malik Peiris, Tam Wah-Ching Professor in Medical Science, Chair Professor of Virology and Director of the School of Public Health, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, HKU; Dr Leung Siu-fai, Director of Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation, HKSAR Government; Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of World Health Organization; Dr Constance Chan, Director of Health, HKSAR Government; Professor Guan Yi, Daniel CK Yu Professor in Virology of the School of Public Health and Director of Centre of Influenza Research, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, HKU and Professor Gabriel M. Leung, Dean of Medicine and Co-Director of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Infectious Disease Epidemiology and Control, School of Public Health, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, HKU.

Gift presented by Professor Peter Mathieson, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Hong Kong at the luncheon hosted in honour of Dr Margaret Chan on 13 August 2015.

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