Welcome Message and Theme

Welcome Message

Welcome to the Conference "Maternal & Child Health: the Foundation of Population Health", organised by the Department of Health to mark the 80th anniversary of the establishment of the maternal & child health service in Hong Kong.

The Maternal and Child Health Service in Hong Kong has undergone remarkable transformation since the establishment of the first Government's Infant Welfare Centre in 1932. The emphasis of the Infant Welfare Centre then was on ensuring proper infant feeding and providing health education to mothers on infant care.

Over the years, in response to the changing needs of children and their families, the service has evolved into a comprehensive range of health promotion and disease prevention programmes for mothers and children from birth to 5 years, delivered through a network of Maternal and Child Health Centres.

The conference will bring together eminent international and local experts to share their scientific knowledge and experiences in translating knowledge into policies and practices which not only benefit the well-being of mothers and children of today, but also that of the population of tomorrow.

Your participation will make a difference. We hope to see you in the conference!

Dr LEUNG Sze-lee, Shirley
Scientific Committee & Organising Committee



This is a conference for policy makers and scientist-practitioners. The emphasis of the speeches, presentations and materials used will be on scientific evidence and its applicability to health / social / educational policies and practices. We welcome officers from government bureaux, departments and public organisations, academics, as well as healthcare, social and early education professionals to attend.

Renowned overseas and local experts are invited to share their knowledge and best practices on the following 4 main themes:

1. Social Determinants of Health

Across the globe, both within and between countries, there are health inequities that are attributable to the social conditions in which people exist. Reducing these avoidable differences in health and well-being is a matter of social justice and fundamental to improving health of the whole population. The conference will expound the scientific evidence on social determinants of health, argue for the importance of policies and practices that create the social conditions which are conducive to reducing health inequities, especially those applicable to parents and young children, as well as explain the use of tools to measure and depict health inequity that contribute to driving policies and practices and evaluating their effectiveness.

2. Early Child Development

Positive early experiences are critical to children's brain development and are fundamental to their lifelong health and development that build the foundation for a thriving, productive and sustainable society. Drawing on the recent evidence on neuroscience & developmental-behavioural researches and evaluation studies on early intervention programmes, the conference will discuss the scientific basis of early child development, the impact of stress and adversity on the developing brain as well as the feasibility of improving outcomes for vulnerable children and generating benefits to the society through early intervention. Speakers will also share with the audience international experiences in early childhood initiatives.

3. Developmental Origins of Health and Diseases (DOHaD)

The burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), e.g. cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancers, etc. is increasing across the world. Actions to combat NCDs that focused on modifying lifestyle in adults have had limited success (except for the reduction of smoking). A growing body of evidence shows that the developmental environment during pregnancy (e.g. maternal age, body composition, diet, physical activities, stress level, etc.) and in the early childhood years significantly influence the offspring / child's risk for NCDs in later life. The conference will discuss the scientific basis of DOHaD and how the understanding of DOHaD impacts on global NCD prevention strategies, e.g. linking NCD prevention to maternal and child health, such as the importance of lifestyle in parents-to-be, breastfeeding promotion, and education and health literacy promotion in adolescents and young adults.

4. Infant and Young Child Feeding & Growth

Childhood obesity has recently emerged as a global child public health problem. In Hong Kong, as in other countries, survey data shows that a significant proportion of children are already overweight or obese at primary school entry. As evidence has shown that child obesity tracks into adulthood and treatment of obesity is notoriously ineffective, prevention of obesity through the early establishment of healthy eating habits and active lifestyle in young children is crucial. Together with the pre-conference Seminar, the Conference will discuss the "Why" and "How" of tackling childhood obesity and the essential ingredients for effectiveness. It will also address issues at the other end of the spectrum - the clinical approach to weight faltering in infants and eating / feeding problems in young children, as well as parenting practices that prevent feeding problems and facilitate healthy eating habits. This will also be an opportune occasion for child healthcare professionals to debate if Hong Kong should adopt the World Health Organisation's Child Growth Standard (WHO-CGS, 2006) for monitoring the growth of young children.