Lives of the fellows

Shiu-Hung Lee

b.6 June 1933 d.9 January 2014
MB BS Hong Kong(1958) DPH(1963) DIH(1969) FFCM(1983) FACOM(1984) AFOM (1984) FRCP(1992) FFOM(1993) FAFOM FRACMA FHKAM Hon FHKCCM

Lee Shiu-hung was the first director of health in Hong Kong. He was born in Heshan, Guangdong, China, the son of Lee Yan, a merchant, and Tam Lee, a housewife. He and his family migrated to Hong Kong during the Second World War. As a youngster, he had already wanted to pursue a career as a medical doctor. After attending St Stephen’s College, he studied medicine and graduated from the University of Hong Kong in 1958.

He was a house officer in Kowloon Hospital and a medical officer at Kwong Wah Hospital between 1959 and 1960. He then joined the Medical and Health Department as a health officer. During his career in the Civil Service he held a variety of positions related to health planning and administration, management of medical and health services, infectious disease control, health education, occupational and environmental health. Upon the establishment of the Department of Health in April 1989 he was appointed the director of health. He is recognised for his efforts in bridging public health, health promotion and primary care. His contributions in establishing solid infrastructures for the control of communicable diseases, including tuberculosis, AIDS were remarkable.

After his retirement from the Civil Service in June 1994, he continued his dedication to promoting the development of public health. He joined the Chinese University of Hong Kong and established the school of public health in 2001, in which he served as the founding director. In 2002, he was given the title of emeritus professor in community medicine by the Chinese University of Hong Kong. He devoted much of his energy towards the development of community and family medicine, and public health. He pioneered the Centre for Health Education and Health Promotion, and initiated health education training for teachers, which was pivotal to the development of healthy schools. He was a staunch supporter for the healthy city projects, which are now present in every district in Hong Kong.

He never once stopped advocating the need for community-wide control of tobacco and drugs, as well as prevention of communicable and non-communicable diseases. Apart from serving a number of government committees, he was the founding president of the Hong Kong College of Community Medicine and president of the World Association of Chinese Public Health Professionals since 2003. He also founded other important professional associations dedicated to promoting the control of infectious diseases and furthering health promotion and public health practice.

He was always mindful of the impact of global and regional environments on local population health. For his efforts to improve the health of people in the region, he was awarded numerous honours and awards, including the World Health Organization medal from the Western Pacific Regional Office in 1988, the leadership achievement award by the Asia-Pacific Academic Consortium for Public Health in 2000, the Outstanding Contribution to Tobacco Control in China award by the China Association on Smoking and Health in 2002, an award from the Asia Pacific Association for the Control of Tobacco in 2007 and from the World Health Organization and Alliance for Healthy Cities in 2010.

He was appointed as a Justice of the Peace in 1996 and awarded the Silver Bauhinia Star in 2000 by the Government of Hong Kong.

Other than his commitments to public health, he was a devout Christian who had close links with the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui (the Anglican Church in Hong Kong and Macao) and assisted in various development projects concerning community health care issues.

He was a keen swimmer and indulged in tennis into his seventies. His other hobbies included singing, listening to music, dancing, photography and travelling. As a dedicated and caring family man, he still managed to find time to be with his family even though he was often busy with his work schedule. He relished his valuable family time and, in particular, big family gatherings and holidays with all of his children’s families. He liked watching his grandchildren playing and often joined in with them whenever he could. He especially loved to cycle in the countryside and pick strawberries and raspberries on warm summer days in England with his grandchildren. He and his wife shared countless memorable and treasured moments together.

Lee Shiu-hung passed away peacefully in Hong Kong surrounded by his family. He was survived by his wife, Lee Wong Wai-kuen, whom he had married in 1959, and their son, three daughters and five grandchildren. He was well-loved and respected by all his family, relatives and friends. He will be dearly missed as a dedicated medical professor and icon who inspired many in the public health field and far beyond.

Constance Chan

[South China Morning Post 9 January 2014 – accessed 26 April 2015; The Chinese University of Hong Kong – accessed 26 April 2015; Hong Kong Council on Smoking and Health – accessed 26 April 2015; National University of Singapore Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health – accessed 26 April 2015]

(Volume XII, page web)

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