Background of the Society.
Three decades ago, there were not many paediatricians paying attention on the subspecialty – Paediatric Gastroenterology and Hepatology. It was regarded as the ‘no man’s land’ because the common Western gastrointestinal diseases were rare in Hong Kong. On the other hand, the common infectious and parasitic diseases in the developing countries were under controlled locally. There was minimal number of cases with liver diseases. Similar to those with nutritional problems, the patients with prolonged neonatal jaundice were cared by general paediatricians.
Around the 80’s in the last century, Dr. Henrietta Ip and Dr. Betty Young contributed a lot to the studies in hepatitis B infection and its vaccination which marked the beginning of this subspecialty under paediatrics medicine. Subsequently, this specialty further matured with Dr. Peter Sullivan form a paediatric gastrointestinal team together with Dr. Tony Nelson, Dr. Peter Lewindon and Dr. David Lau in the Prince of Wales Hospital in the early 90’s. This was regarded as the dawn of this specialty.
I am committed to developing this subspecialty and increasing its recognition has been my work in the last two decades. Whenever given the opportunity, I reflected to senior administrators in Hospital Authority, which provided the bulk of hospital paediatric service in Hong Kong. My wish came true with a group of paediatricians from various hospitals in Hong Kong had the opportunity to receive training in this subspecialty, and also went for overseas studies in the 1990s.
In 1997, the Hong Kong Paediatric Society also helped the subspecialty development by inviting Dr. Anthony Catto-Smith from Australia to Hong Kong. Dr. Catto-Smith stayed in Hong Kong for a week, delivered lectures, led some case discussions and paid visit to different hospitals. On preparing Dr. Catto-Smith’s visit, we founded the working group on Paediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition. We invited representatives from all the Paediatric Departments in the Hospital Authority. We also invited Paediatric surgeons, Prof. Paul Tam and Dr. King-yiu Tsui, doctor from the private sector as well as dieticians to join the group . Two years later, this working group was registered as the Hong Kong Society of Paediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition.
I must also say thanks to Dr. Daniel Ng and Dr. Chi-hang Ng for arranging the meeting venues all along for the working group and the subsequent Society; Dr. Ying-kit Leung for contributing a lot in the development of the working group and the Society. His dedication in the medical advances is marvelous and has also connected us to the workers of the subspecialties in the Mainland China, and raised a lot of funds for the Society running. The local interested paediatricians were also connected to the Asian Pan-Pacific Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition since the mid-90’s
Almost 2 decades from the initial working group, there were good successions in the Society. We have more and more young and enthusiastic doctors receiving their training in this subspecialty. It can be expected that there will be better development when a team is formed in future Hong Kong Children Hospital.
Bless for every success of the subspecialties in the coming future.
by Dr. Kong TSE