Letter | Optometrists should be part of the core team at district healthcare centres

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The Hong Kong public would benefit from an expansion of publicly funded services to include more health professions. These include the services highlighted in the Primary Healthcare Blueprint, such as district health centres (DHC) and public-private partnership programmes. I am excited by the progress already achieved in the effort to increase the accessibility of healthcare services.

However, as proposed hubs for healthcare services and resources, DHCs should include all primary care providers in the directly accessible core team. Currently, optometrists are absent, alongside dentists and Chinese medicine practitioners, even though some allied health professionals are included, such as physiotherapists.

Whether on the grounds that optometrists are primary care providers or that allied health professionals are already included, optometrists’ services should be directly accessible to the public through each DHC’s core team.

This can be achieved in several ways. One point of reference is the Jockey Club Cadenza Hub, which provides directly accessible comprehensive eye assessments and diagnoses by optometrists. With this already successful operating system in mind, DHCs may consider including one part-time or full-time optometrist in each of the 18 districts.

To ensure the most efficient distribution of resources and limit unneeded expenses, the optometrists can provide their services through appointments, being available on a specific day every week for face-to-face assessments and consultations at the DHC or even remote consultations.

Additionally, the government should consider expanding its range of public-private partnership programmes to include new ones with other primary care providers, such as optometrists, in addition to the programme it already has with family doctors.

Poor vision is associated with systemic diseases, such as diabetes and hypertension, so for some people, their optometrist may open the door to much-needed care. The current care pathway for public eye care – which requires a patient to get a referral from government-run outpatient clinics – unnecessarily burdens family doctors in the Hospital Authority’s clinics with having to triage patients.

As primary care providers, optometrists provide more direct, accessible and efficient care, which could address most eye care needs and refer patients to specialist care at the appropriate time. Therefore, utilising the capabilities of optometrists is another way to reduce the workload of public-sector family doctors.

Accessibility should be key in Hong Kong’s healthcare. Optometry should be better reflected in a contemporary blueprint for sustainably developing primary healthcare services in Hong Kong, considering the growing need for healthcare.

George Woo, emeritus professor, School of Optometry, Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Lantau redevelopment may give us a harbour to be proud of

In the letter, “Why not declare Victoria Harbour a national treasure?” (May 19), your correspondent was worried that our narrowing Victoria Harbour might become Victoria River one day, thereby ruining this Hong Kong icon and damaging the tourism sector.

I agree that over the years, damage has been done to the waterway. But the reclaimed land was used for development that has improved the harbour as a tourist attraction.

Armed with the lessons learned from developing Victoria Harbour, we should monitor the development of the Lantau Tomorrow Vision. Judging from the sketches provided by the government, the islands created may well connect to form a harbour with gorgeous bay views that will rival Victoria Harbour’s.

Edmond Pang, Fanling

Kobe Bryant lookalike highlights power of social media

That a Kobe Bryant lookalike in China managed to garner more than half a million followers on the Chinese social media platform Douyin by mimicking the late basketball legend underscores the influence celebrities wield in our society and the potential for exploitation.

People form deep connections with public figures, resonating with their stories and achievements. In this case, the public’s fascination with Bryant has translated into a desire to witness his likeness, even if it is an imitation.

However, a more recent effort to capitalise on his fame was less well received. A wine company that tried to promote a new product named after Bryant was criticised for copyright infringement.

The power of social media and the internet in shaping cultural trends is undeniable. It makes it all the more important that we must critically examine the content and messages being disseminated and evaluate their impact.

Coco Ng Sze Ching, Kwai Chung

Biden’s support for Israel likely to cost him votes

The administration of US President Joe Biden wants it both ways: to heavily arm the Israeli state against Gaza and to keep the anti-war voters on its side come election time (“US plans US$1 billion more in weapons, ammo for Israel despite Rafah assault”, May 15).
But a sizeable chunk of traditionally Democrat voters, angry about the large-scale starvation and slaughter of Palestinian non-combatants, may abandon Biden at the ballot box.

Judging from the protesters’ passion and the seriousness of the humanitarian crisis involved, it’s doubtful that the most adamantly pro-Palestinian and anti-war demonstrators and voters will forgive Biden come election day for the consequential stance he has taken by continuing to provide Israel with the mass casualty weaponry being used.

And I could not honestly blame them.

Frank Sterle Jnr, British Columbia, Canada


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