Children working in fish market in Bangladesh.

Ethnic Minorities (EM) constitute 6.4% (approx. 448,000) of the Hong Kong population (as of 2017) and continue to grow.  The EM aging population (aged 65 or above) is also increasing between 2016-2017. For various reasons, people of different nationalities chose to come to Hong Kong and make it their second home. EMs bring with them interesting cultural heritage to inject energy to Hong Kong society and make it a real international city.

However, despite the Basic Law of Hong Kong grants all Hong Kong residents equal access to the right to public healthcare regardless of their socioeconomic status, race or religion, many EMs in Hong Kong struggle to have equal access to healthcare services. These came in forms of language, cultural and religious barriers, as well as discrimination on the grounds of race, immigration status, and nationality.

Refugees, Hong Kong, and health

Another segment underserved are the Asylum Seekers and Refugees (ASRs). They are a group of marginalized and ignored population. Due to the backlog of the screening process, some of them have to stay in Hong Kong for over ten years. They are prohibited to engage in any form of businesses or jobs, except rare exceptions. During the lengthy screening process and long waiting time, ASRs can only live under limited government and NGO subsidies, and often neglected by general public and detached from the society.

The Right To Health

Health In Action advocates health equity for the underprivileged, including EMs and ASRs in Hong Kong. The right to health implies that the government should provide accessible and acceptable basic healthcare to all living in the city. This also includes other health-related services such as nutritious food and safe housing etc. The right to health enshrined in international human rights treaties, such as International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, is applicable to Hong Kong. However, experience from ASRs show that there are multiple factors hindering their health care access, including cultural differences, language barrier, lack of awareness of health needs and financial constraints. All these impose negative effects on the physical and mental health of ASRs.

The Right to Health Factsheet http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Publications/Factsheet31.pdf

Our approach

  • Train-the trainer Model (TTT): We partner with local organisations to recruit and implement a Train-the-trainer model. The trainees (or Health ambassadors) can further empower their own community members by transferring knowledge and skills with the familiar language and in the culturally appropriate manner.
  • To enhance health ownership by enabling early diagnosis for the high risk individuals of hypertension and diabetes through family and person-centered approach

Current Projects

  • Enjoying health together: Individual and Family health management programme for ethnic minorities in Hong Kong 

What Health In Action have done so far?

For Ethnic Minorities:

– arranged 40+ health sessions

– reached out to 500+ beneficiaries through health checks and training sessions on various health topics

– conducted large scale dentistry programme in collaboration with HK School of Dentistry across Hong Kong

– provided medical interpretation training to providers of medical interpreters in Hong Kong

– actively participated in Legislative Council’s Subcommittee on the Rights of Ethnic Minorities including 5 submissions [link to the submissions?]

– organized health symposium and encouraged medico-social collaboration for ethnic minorities social inclusion

For Asylum Seekers & Refugees (ASR)

– arranged health information sessions, health screening sessions, individual health advice

– established the bi-monthly Refugee Clinic where serves as an important platform to promote health awareness and empowerment

– conducted 3 dental screening service days in collaboration with dental students over the past two years serving about 100 participants each time

– organized World Refugee Day 2017[link?] and Word Refugee Day 2018 [link?] to strengthen partnership through medico-social collaborations

– developed a Health Living Booklet in Arabic and Urdu languages in addition to the English, French and Indonesian versions to help ASRs overcome healthcare access barriers

–  active participated in Legislative Council’s Subcommittee on the Rights of refugee children