Secretary of Health Lo Chung-mau in an interview with China Daily on Thursday. (NORA ZHENG / CHINA DAILY)

Hong Kong’s health chief has said the city can play a role in unifying the training system for medical workers in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area in a bid to achieve a greater flow of talents and the integration of the healthcare sector into the 11-city cluster.

Speaking to China Daily in an exclusive interview on Wednesday, Secretary of Health Lo Chung-mau, who is also a top-notch liver specialist, said that establishing a similar education and training system for medical workers in the GBA will greatly help the region to standardize its healthcare service.

Hong Kong’s advantages in medical personnel training with its highly professional and internationalized specialist training system can play a role in achieving this lofty goal, Lo said.

“If we can make use of this (Hong Kong’s) very good training system and try to establish a similar specialist training system in the Greater Bay Area, doctors in the whole area will be assured that the quality and standards are comparable,” he added.

According to Lo, standardized training for residents on the mainland takes three years, while it takes at least six years of training for a medical graduate to become a specialist.

Lo added there are 15 constituent specialist colleges running training programs in the city for specialists-to-be. They have established a very solid foundation for Hong Kong to maintain a high standard, and to operate as an international center of medical expertise.

Lo revealed that there is currently a pilot program being conducted between the Hong Kong Academy of Medicine, the city’s statutory body responsible for overseeing the training of medical professionals, and the Shenzhen Municipal People’s Government.

The program includes a three-year residential training program under the national system and a four-year specialist training program adopting Hong Kong standards, with the University of Hong Kong Shenzhen Hospital (HKU-SZH) as the testing platform, he said.

Lo added that the medical program currently covers the oncology, obstetrics and gynecology departments and will continue to be expanded. He hopes that in the future, specialist training in Shen-zhen and the whole Greater Bay Area will be comparable to that in Hong Kong, which would ensure a flow of medical experts.

In addition, with the advantage of the “one country, two systems” principle within the Greater Bay Area, Lo said the governments in the two places should work to ensure the flow of four elements — people, drugs and devices, data, and capital — to achieve integration of the healthcare service.

He suggested combining the strengths of both the mainland and Hong Kong medical systems with core quality and quantity as well as standards and efficiency.

Hong Kong’s public health system is a community-spirited public healthcare system that provides a safety net for those in the community and provides a range of choices for those with the financial means to opt into the private sector, Lo said.

“On the other hand, the mainland’s medical system also has advantages in terms of the volume of the service, the efficiency, and also, in a way, the system has more incentives for driving efficiency,” he added.