(Vol.6 No.12 --- February 2002)

Positive Child Health and Development:
Towards Integrated Efforts by
Medical, Educational and Social Welfare Professionals

As Hong Kong's medical and health practices advance steadily towards international standards, one area that remains to be promoted is the readiness of our practitioners to view clients from the wider context of society in which these persons function. In recent Health Care Reform consultations, the problem of compartmentalization stands out as a critical obstacle in effective health service delivery. For children to grow and develop into healthy, educated and socially responsible adults, medical and health providers not only need to work in a systematic and integrated manner with each other, but with other sectors of society that serve them, including not least, parents and the public that determine much of their fate.

In this issue's special feature section, the Hong Kong Equal Opportunity Commission provides a brief outline on Hong Kong's ordinance against discrimination of persons with disabilities, and on the recently launched code of practice in education for children with disabilities. Paediatricians and child care providers need to be aware of rights of disabled children, as for all children under the UN Charter of Children's Rights, to access education that is appropriate and effective for them. Health of the child, physical and psychological, naturally depends on prevention and identification of conditions that adversely affect it, and on the availability of effective treatment. "Treatment" in developmental and acquired disabilities often does not come as medication or surgery, but in form of educational, social and therapeutic interventions that are evidence based and timely. Focusing on the plight of children with the "hidden handicap" specific learning disabilities (SLD), a parent survey was conducted by the Chinese University of Hong Kong to see whether these disabled children are effectively identified and given the services they require. The shocking social outcome of children with SLD in a recent UK study is discussed from a social worker's viewpoint, and thoughts from those personally affected are presented.

Further in this issue's medical bulletin featuring recent reviews in child health, the range in a child's life is touched: advances in antenatal care, positive parenting, new knowledge and vaccination practices for influenza, and developments in Adolescent Medicine and care for adolescents' physical and emotional needs.

Children are the future of our civilization. Medical and health professionals have a critical and leading role to play in the integrated effort that many sectors of society contribute to, in ensuring our children's positive health and welfare.

Dr. Catherine Lam