(December 13, 2007) The Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine of the University of Hong Kong, in collaboration with the Hospital Authority and Department of Health, has launched a Prospective Study on the Effectiveness of Pneumococcal Vaccination in Elderly Patients in preventing pneumococcal pneumonia. According to statistics from the Centre for Health Protection of the Department of Health, pneumococcal pneumonia is a highly prevalent disease among elderly people 65 years and over, with an average incidence of 20 to 80 per 100,000 people in this age group. The average hospital stay for each infected victim is 22 days and the mortality rate can be as high as 23.4%. Therefore, pneumococcal vaccination can save tens of millions of dollars in medical expenses by reducing infection rates.
The Prospective Study is a pilot scheme of combined pneumococcal vaccination and flu vaccination. If the pilot scheme proves to be successful, it will be extended to the whole of Hong Kong. The total cost of the research study and implementation is approximately HK$30 million. The HKU Li Ka-shing Faculty of Medicine will be given a grant of HK$15 million by the Li Ka-shing Foundation and will apply for government funding.
The vaccination is a pilot project of high research significance with specific objectives as follows:
•To study the effectiveness of pneumococcal vaccination in elderly patients in preventing invasive pneumococcal diseases (pneumonia and meningitis), decreasing hospitalization and mortality;
•To study if pneumococcal vaccination will decrease the rate of resistant pneumococcal infection;
•To study the benefits of combined influenza and pneumococcal vaccination; and
•To educate, promote and provide pneumococcal vaccination to non-institutionalised patients of 65 years or above.
In addition, related education and community programmes will be introduced at the same time.
We are very pleased that the project is blessed with funding by the Li Ka-shing Foundation, said Professor Raymond Liang, Acting Dean of the HKU Li Ka-shing Faculty of Medicine, adding that the pilot study is highly significant in promoting pneumococcal vaccination for the elderly. This is also the first large-scale pilot study in combined pneumococcal vaccination and flu vaccination in South East Asia.
The vaccination not only provides valid protection for recipients for 10 years, it also reduces hospitalization and mortality rate among the elderly. Its successful implementation is also expected to save millions of dollars in medical expenses for the government and taxpayers and serves as a model for Mainland China and Asia. The introduction of this large-scale pilot research and community project at our Facultys 120th Anniversary showcases the Facultys commitment to serve the Hong Kong community, Professor Liang said.
The vaccination programme has been implemented in Aberdeen Jockey Club Clinic and Sai Ying Pun Jockey Club General Outpatient Clinic in early December. It will be extended to Queen Mary Hospital Specialist Outpatient Clinic, Grantham Hospital Specialist Outpatient Clinic and Ap Lei Chau Clinic subsequently on December 17. The analysis of the data collected from the pilot project and the evaluation of the effectiveness of the programme are scheduled to be completed by the end of 2008. This will provide evidence to take forward a territory-wide pneumococcal vaccination programme for elderly patients. The programme will be implemented together with the Government Influenza Vaccination Programme to ensure adequate enrolment of around 9,600 elderly with a defined set of chronic illnesses. Once fully implemented, the territory-wide program is expected to benefit over 200,000 elderly.
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