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November 28
2016 年 11 月 28 日

引領動物醫學
續塑香港現代化

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今天熙熙攘攘的繁華香港,曾經是個僅有7,500人的漁村、海上通商者和海盜的避風港。

1842年,滿清政府根據《南京條約》把港島割讓英國。1842年至1898年開埠期間,又將九龍半島及新界先後割讓和租借給英國。成為英屬殖民地後,香港的人口開始增長:1915年達530,000人;1925年增至725,000人;1940年達到1百60萬人;到了1951年,人口更遽增至2百10萬人。

二次大戰後,由於本地勞工便宜,上海移民帶入大量資金,移居香港的難民創業精神旺盛,工業生產提高了居民的經濟收入,高樓大廈平地而起,有人發財,有人破產。一時之間,香港變成紐扣、塑膠花、雨傘、紡織品、搪瓷製品的中心;到了上世紀 60 年代,香港已成為亞洲四小龍之一。

金融與地產
1970年底,隨著勞務成本的提高,傳統製造業北遷至廣東各地,製造業後繼無力,服務業騰飛,貿易物流、金融服務、專業服務和旅遊業成為香港經濟的四個重要支柱。隨之而來的是租金和地產價值上漲,本地經濟轉而依賴房地產市場。而今國民生產總值的1/5來自地產收益,地產交易為政府提供1/3的庫收,式微的製造業目前僅佔香港生產總值的 4%。近一個世紀內,這座城市先後經歷了殖民統治、短期戰爭、社會動亂、製造業蓬勃發展,繼而轉型為服務性的經濟體。

1997年,始自泰國的金融風暴蔓延至亞洲各國,一時風聲鶴唳、人心恍恍。香港未能幸免,1998年的國民生產總值萎縮了5.5%,隨之而來的是連續6年的通縮。其間,美國網路泡沫破滅,而2003年沙士甚囂塵上的日子更是雪上加霜,地產市場跌入歷史低谷。直到2005年,香港的國民生產總值才得以恢復危機前的水平。

自然環境變化
在香港的發展過程中,金融健康並非唯一令人煩心的事。1968年,時稱「香港流感」大爆發,導致15%的市民感染疾病。20 世紀 90 年代後期,先有禽流感的威脅,接踵而來的又是2003年爆發的沙士,及近年四面八方來的流感,一再給香港帶來激烈動盪。

1892 年至1985 年間,香港遭到數次水荒,尤其以1963-64 年最為嚴重,食水供應遠不足以支持人口的增長,曾經由每天供水4小時惡化到每4天供水4小時。此外,香港今天的空氣也不如以往清新,自然生態環境隨著周邊地區經濟與人口的成長而惡化。

可以再舉個例子說明一個基本問題。當今世界,每年有700萬人因經濟發展所附帶製造的空氣污染而死亡。與此同時,在70餘億的世界人口中,反而有1/3的人沒有或者僅享有極其有限的能源。根深蒂固的貧窮和不平等,導致世界上 20 餘億人口無法享受到潔淨的飲水、衛生的飲食、基礎教育和醫療服務,這些地區的居民因而壽命不長 — 平均僅 50 歲。現代交通工具無遠弗屆,缺乏能源的貧窮地區所爆發的沙士、伊波拉、寨卡等病毒,經由動物從貧困地區迅速感染「現代化」城市的居民。2003 年爆發的沙士就是一個鮮明的例子,當年百業蕭條的「慘」境,凡是經歷過的港人必然記憶猶新。

人與動物
200 年來的香港歷史猶如過山車般忽上忽下。先有19 世紀初的張保仔,一生變幻離奇,招安前,在海上劫商掠貨,歸附朝廷後,又參與緝捕海盜,其間更有他與參與綁架他的女人之間的浪漫關係。從張保仔的日子開始,及至一次、二次大戰,經濟起飛,法治、人權、環保、民主,以及港人對飲食的喜愛與自豪,稱之為世界上最令人心潮澎湃的城市之一,可謂名符其實。

今天,我們可以批評許多香港的缺點 — 空氣素質差、房地產價格高、貧富懸殊、空間狹窄 — 但再怎麼也不能說他是個沈悶無聊的地方。我們享受飲食,欣賞李安導演的《飲食男女》,而王家衛的《花樣年華》更將這座城市摩天大樓下暗暗流動的豐富情感與浪漫情素表露出來。

問題是,香港固然是個充滿活力的城市,卻從來不以創新著稱。他懂得適應形勢,也無疑能遇變求存,緊跟潮流,卻絕不是披荊斬棘的先峰。究其往跡,我們很難看到到他重視人類和環境依存的必然性。

做為什麼樣的世代,乃是由我們與地球上其他生物的互動所決定。一個不理解人與動物之間彼此依存、意識不到動物權利的城市,還能被稱之為現代化的城市嗎?「健康一元化」的概念與運動,旨在建立人、動物與環境之間的和諧與容納,珍惜三者之間相互共生的關係。照護伴侶動物、維護珍奇動物,提高食物生產的安全。

動物醫學院
我於2008年5月14日出任城大校長,同年7月7日與大學管理團隊提出成立動物醫學院,並於8月組隊赴歐洲、北美、紐澳,進行研考。港府則於2008年10月22日任命梁振英先生出任城大校董主席。幸運的是,梁振英經研討探索後,深刻了解動物醫學的重要性,故進而於 2009 年強力支持城大成立動物醫學院的主張。

與美國康奈爾大學合作,經多年籌劃,城大在胡曉明主席及校董會的支持下,於2014年創辦了動物醫學院。教育需創意,社會有愛心。2014年9月我在例行醫療檢查之後,腸胃專科林子雲醫師出奇不意地遞給我一張 20 萬元的支票,就因為他看了新聞,全心贊助城大成立動物醫學院。之後,今年九月,當城大動物醫學院宣布計劃2017年正式招生時,他看報後,再次寄來第二張 20 萬元的支票。醫生送病人支票的故事,你大概不曾聽說過吧!

事實上,社會各界支持動物醫學院,近年來慷慨捐贈城大超過 8 億港幣,正反映出許多有心人關心動物醫學在現代化社會所扮演的角色。

創立動物醫學院,目標之一就是為了與世界結合、促進永續發展,重塑香港現代化的未來。動物醫學訓練有助於對抗威脅公眾健康的人畜共患疾病;保障食物安全(多起食物污染醜聞後,食安問題已成為本地區重點關注的大事);還可以透過漁產提高食物生產量。我們的努力有助香港成為預防和控制傳染疾病的亞洲中心,改善動物福利,維護人自然環境,為香港的年青人創造新的就業路徑。

將來某一天,當香港真心認同動物在人類生存的絕對條件、對動物福利和動物醫療有所貢獻時,我們才有資格再次號稱為一個現代化的社會。

註:
本文為作者在2016年9月19日城大宣佈推出六年制動物醫學學士課程典禮上發表的演講。典禮在跑馬地馬會舉行。
本文曾載於明報(2016年11月25日);本文部分資料,曾刊載於英文《南華早報》(2016年10月3日)。


Animal welfare for a modern city

The past 180 years have been a thrilling roller-coaster ride for Hong Kong. In the early 1800s, what was to become one of the most dynamic cities on earth was a just small fishing village with a population of 7,500, a haven for seafaring traders and pirates.

Since then the city has experienced colonial rule, wars, social unrest, manufacturing success, a remarkable transition to a service economy, a booming property market and a burgeoning population. Average incomes have gone up, high-rises built, fortunes made, and fortunes lost.

Say anything about Hong Kong, for all its faults — the air quality, property prices or the lack of space — but you can never accuse Hong Kong of being dull.

But what is lacking is the genuine acknowledgement that animals are important in our lives. It's not that Hong Kong has no capacity for love and compassion. Far from it. The university I work at has received numerous generous donations over the years, reflecting deep-seated philanthropic urges among the community. In fact, I was once given a cheque by a gastroenterologist following a medical procedure simply because he wanted to support our new school of veterinary medicine. What's more, we love food and drink, like in Ang Lee's Eat Drink Man Woman, while Wong Kar-wai's In The Mood For Love drew out the passion and romance that simmers beneath the city's skyscrapers.

Love can survive almost anywhere: it even blossomed when the woman who helped turn Cheung Po Tsai 張保仔 into a pirate eventually married him, no doubt against the wishes of her kidnapper of a husband!

But can Hong Kong extend compassion to animals? Can a city truly be called modern if it resolutely fails to appreciate the complex relationship between humans and animals, or see that animal welfare matters.

One of the aims at the university where I work is to highlight how taking the lead in veterinary medicine can be a great boost to Hong Kong in several ways. Veterinary training can help combat zoonotic diseases that threaten public health and economic prosperity. It can contribute to food safety, too, a major concern for this part of the world in the wake of several regional food contamination scandals, and it can enhance food production through aquaculture, the world's fastest developing food source. And it can contribute closer to home by promoting animal welfare for companion and large animals.

Consider this very basic problem by way of illustration. A third of the world's population has no access to electricity. Entrenched poverty and inequality mean billions of people have inadequate, or no, access to clean water, schools and medical care, and so live shorter lives. Under such conditions the likelihood that diseases such as SARS, Ebola and Zika will evolve and break out increases. As we recall from SARS in 2003, a disease can rapidly transit from such impoverished areas via animals and infect human populations living in "modern" cities, with tragic results.

Hong Kong has shown great leadership in the years since SARS in human medicine, but we need more young people to train for careers in biomedical research, government, policymaking, caring for companion animals, treating large animals, enhancing food safety and boosting food production.

But, and here's the catch, Hong Kong is not a city that innovates. It adapts, for sure. It survives, no doubt. It follows, and copes, but it does not set the pace. And it especially does not have a strong record in recognising that the natural world and the environment are fundamental to our identity as humans.

This is our loss because our relationship with other creatures on earth defines who we are as humans. I don't mean that all Hong Kongers should necessarily own pets. Rather, I am talking about One Health, the movement aimed at creating an inclusive relationship between medical doctors and veterinarians in recognition of the interdependency between humans and animals. I am talking about understanding zoonotic diseases that threaten our safety and our economic prosperity. I am talking about food safety and public health in general, and about food production, such as aquaculture.

Over the next few days an international conference in Johannesburg, South Africa, will be coordinating, and encouraging, responses to the myriad problems facing the natural world today. The 17th Conference of the Parties (CoP17) to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites) is one of many international initiatives aimed at highlighting the plight of the natural world and building harmonies with nature.

I hope that Hong Kong will host such events in future when this city is recognised for its contributions to animal welfare and veterinary medicine.

Note:
This article is based on the author's speech at the launch ceremony for CityU's new six-year bachelor of veterinary medicine programme at Happy Valley Jockey Club on 19 September 2016.
This article was published in the South China Morning Post (3 October, 2016) .

28 November, 2016

 

 

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