Hong Kong can play a big part in the internationalization of traditional Chinese medicine, including aligning the traditional Chinese medicine standards with those of global clinical research practice to earn higher international recognition, said Ko Wing-man, a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.

Putting the proposal forward at this year’s annual two sessions in Beijing, Ko, Hong Kong’s former health chief, also suggested summing up the nation’s valuable and successful experience in combating the COVID-19 pandemic to provide lessons from which the World Health Organization and international community can learn in the event of a similar public health crisis.

The veteran medical expert said that under the principle of “one country, two systems”, Hong Kong enjoys many advantages, including its close connections with many other parts of the world, which can assist the traditional Chinese medicine industry in its foray into the international market.

Also, Hong Kong’s achievements in setting up traditional Chinese medicine standards and conducting evidence-based clinical research can help the country’s TCM research gain wider recognition on the global stage.

According to Ko, origin tracing and the quality standards of traditional Chinese medicines are vital criteria for international buyers seeking to develop the market.

Ko suggested that the country establish a traditional Chinese medicine trade service platform in Hong Kong, where sellers can provide the sources of the products and assurances that they comply with product quality regulations. He believes such a platform would help boost international buyers’ confidence in traditional Chinese medicine.

Another of Ko’s proposals was to better leverage China’s experience in its extraordinary anti-COVID battle.

Ko noted that the country’s anti-pandemic policies over the past three years were based on scientific guidance and placed the lives of the people as their highest priority. The policies enabled China to defeat the virus at a relatively low cost, Ko said.

For example, in the early stage of the outbreak, China effectively contained the pandemic and prevented it from becoming widespread based on scientific data and expert opinions. When the pathogenicity of the virus gradually decreased, China quickly adjusted its anti-pandemic measures according to the latest developments, Ko said.

Ko suggested that China summarize these experiences and share them with the WHO. He believes doing so could help the organization and other countries deal more effectively with significant public health events that may occur in the future.

During the three years of the pandemic, China exported many COVID vaccines to assist various countries. Ko suggested China discuss with the WHO ways to establish an international assistance mechanism so that less-developed regions can get new vaccines, medications, and medical aid in the future.

Ko’s suggestions are based on his professional background and past work experience. In March 2003, when severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) broke out in Hong Kong, Ko, then-director of Professional Services and Public Affairs at the Hospital Authority, actively participated in the anti-epidemic battle and facilitated the city in defeating the virus.

In 2012, he was appointed secretary for food and health and served in that post until 2017. During his term, he enjoyed a high level of popularity among local residents.

Now, as a Hong Kong member of the CPPCC National Committee, he attaches great importance to the medical development of the special administrative region and the country, including Hong Kong’s integration into the national healthcare system and the development of cross-border healthcare.

This year, for the first time, Ko enters the list of the chairperson’s council of the National Committee of the CPPCC. Ko said it was a “great honor” for him and thanked the central government for trusting him.

He pledged to do an excellent job in his term, with a high sense of responsibility, the spirit of loving the country and the city, and a professional attitude. He will also strive to extensively reach out to Hong Kong communities and reflect the concerns of Hong Kong people at the two sessions.