Table of Contents

HK J Paediatr (New Series)
Vol 29. No. 1, 2024

HK J Paediatr (New Series) 2024;29:3-6

In Remembrance

Our Fond Memory of the Late Dr. Chan Chok Wan (陳作耘醫生)

A Teacher respected and remembered

M.B., B.S.(H.K.) F.H.K.A.M.(Paediatrics) F.R.C.P.C.H.(U.K.)
F.R.C.P.(London) F.R.C.P.(Edinburgh) F.R.C.P.(Ireland) F.R.C.P.(Glasgow)
F.H.K.C.Paed. M. Med. Paed.(Singapore) D.C.H.(England) D.C.H.(Ireland)

President, the Hong Kong Paediatric Society (1983-1986)
Honorary Life Member of the Hong Kong Paediatric Society (1990)
The first Medalist on Child Health of the Hong Kong Paediatric Society (2008)
Founding Chairman, Hong Kong Paediatric Foundation (1994-2023)
President, Asia Pacific Paediatric Association (APPA) (1997-2000)
Honorary President of the Asian-Pacific Pediatric Association (APPA) (since 2007)
President, International Pediatric Association (IPA) (2007-2010)
President, the Federation of Medical Societies of Hong Kong (1991-2003)
Founding President, Hong Kong Society of Child Neurology and Developmental Paediatrics (1994-2016)
Honorary Fellow of American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) (2011)
Advisor for WHO Child and Adolescent

Dr. Chan Chok Wan graduated in 1971 from the Faculty of Medicine, University of Hong Kong. He had his paediatric training at the Queen Mary Hospital, Hong Kong and obtained Postgraduate Fellow in Paediatrics, in the University of Singapore. He attained a Commonwealth Scholarship to further his subspecialty training in child neurology and developmental paediatrics at the Guy's Hospital, London, United Kingdom in 1976-78. He introduced training on child development to Hong Kong upon his return. He joined the Hong Kong Paediatric Society (HKPS) early in his professional career, and was elected to Social Convenor in 1978, which marked the beginning of his life-long association with the Society. During his distinctive forty five years' service, he had made insurmountable contribution to the Society and connecting HKPS with the international arena. Dr. Chan was the role model and mentor of generations of leaders in the paediatric field.

It is impossible to report comprehensively all his establishments during his tenure as office bearer and as council member, nevertheless, one can only attempt to outline some of the major milestones that he had enacted, fostering the growth and development of our society to this date.

As office bearer and president from 1978 to 1986 of HKPS, Dr. Chan had established many of the Society's professional educational programmes which are still on-going today. The first Paediatric Update series was held in September 1983; Dr. William C Marshall Memorial Course on "the child and infection" was hosted in Kwong Wah Hospital in August 1984, subsequently an education fund in memory of Dr. William Marshal was set up to sponsor fellows from Hong Kong to attain postgraduate training at Institute of Child Health, London; Inaugural issue of the Hong Kong Journal of Paediatrics was launched in September 1984; The Hong Kong Paediatric Society travelling Fund was established in 1985. Several historical surveys on Child Health Services in Hong Kong was carried out, the result of one of the survey on School Medical Service was reflected back to the relevant government department resulting in establishment of present day Student Health Service. In 1990, the first J H Hutchison Memorial Lecture was successfully inaugurated, and delivered by Professor John O. Forfar.

Before the changeover, the Council decided that the best way to pledge our commitment to Hong Kong was to host an international paediatric conference in 1997. Thereby in 1994, Dr. Chan led the Society's delegation to New Delhi to bid and successfully obtained the right to host the 9th Asian Congress of Paediatrics in Hong Kong. As the chairman of the organizing committee, he pooled the concerted efforts of the academic professors, practicing paediatricians, opinion leaders, political activists, government officials as well as industrial partners together to held a successful Congress in March 1997, before the hand-over of sovereignty of Hong Kong back to China. At the Congress, he was elected to become the president of APPA (Asian Pacific Paediatric Association), heralded his subsequent participation in the development of paediatrics in Asia Pacific and Greater China. Apart from leading the local paediatric community in academic development in particular the accreditation of paediatric training programme and subspecialties development, Dr. Chan had spearheaded the Society's advocacy work and interdisciplinary collaboration in promotion of child health through establishing the Child Advocacy Committee and Joint Committee for Promotion of Child Health (in collaboration with Department of Health and Hospital Authority). Together with the Director of Health at the time, he set up the Update Series on Child Health which became one of the most long-lasting education platforms for paediatricians and paediatric nurses in Department of Health, Hospital Authority and the community.

Dr. Chan always had a dear heart to the children and families in need. He emphasized that paediatricians should work beyond walls meaning outside hospitals and clinics but to emerge into in the community to work with partners and families. In 1994, Dr. Chan, as the Founding Board Chairman, together with child health professionals from various sectors and community celebrities, established the Hong Kong Paediatric Foundation (HKPF) to exemplify the missions on child advocacy, promotion of child health and children's rights through public education, community projects, scientific surveys and position statements. He envisioned the role of paediatricians as "to be spokespersons, preachers and advocates, to bring the attention of the public and its leadership to the importance of investing in children and youth for a better future for our communities. He always quoted that "Children account for 20% of our population but will represent 100% of our future". Throughout the years, HKPF became a consolidated platform for different professionals and stakeholders to work together and has successfully led a number of initiatives such as Prevention of Childhood Injuries and Home Safety; Children's visual problems; Environmental Health; Food Safety; Mental Health Challenges and Student suicides; Smart Use of Social Media. In 2009, the Foundation was awarded the Guinness Record for the "Maximum number of players (total no of 1920) for the Tai Chi Martial Arts 18 Styles". The Hong Kong Healthy Children Competition is another signature community event organized by HKPF for decades for promoting healthy life concepts.

For hospital paediatrics, a consortium for provision of specialized and centralized service for sick children was embedded. Dr. Chan focused his attention in the quest for a children's hospital for Hong Kong. His effort gained the trust of the major stakeholders and with support from the Health and Welfare Bureau, a Centre of Excellence in Paediatrics was nailed at the Chief Executive's 2007-08 policy address. Finally, the Hong Kong Children's Hospital was established in 2018 in Kai Tak. Dr. Chan, as shepherd of Child Health, also propagated the need for a Child Health Policy and a dedicated Children's Commission for Hong Kong. With the concerted efforts from professionals of medical, social and educational sectors, Dr. Chan led the team to submit a "Proposal on the Framework of Child Health Policy for Hong Kong" to the HKSAR government in 2015. The Commission on Children was also established in 2018 after decades of struggling, which signified a monumental milestone for child health in Hong Kong.

Dr. Chan's contribution to paediatric and child health is not limited to Hong Kong but also in mainland China and throughout the world. Through his Presidency in Asia Pacific Pediatric Association and International Pediatric Association, he started a number of initiatives which have high impacts on the subsequent evolution of global child health such as the best nutrition and development for children in the first 1000 days, the strategic planning for different paediatric subspecialties as well as the development of paediatric service in China, in particular on Developmental Paediatrics. Dr. Chan also had special expertise in publishing Anniversary books. He was the Editor-in-Chief of publications entitled 'Challenges and Opportunities for Child Health in the New Millenium' in 1999 as the APSSEAR Silver Jubilee Publication and 'The Story of APPA (1974-2018)' Returning Happiness to Our Children' as publication of APPA in 2018; the IPA 100th Anniversary Book in 2010; and the 50th Anniversary Monograph of HKPS in 2012.

In recent decade, Dr. Chan initiated a consortium in Chinese Speaking Communities to organize annual Child Health Summit in the Asia region to discuss practical strategies in dealing with imminent child health issues such as breastfeeding, childhood obesity, effects of economic growth on child health, preventive strategies in paediatrics and the Sustainable Development Goals. He was honoured with many local and international awards in recognition of his contribution to the advancement of knowledge in paediatrics and to the betterment of child health in Hong Kong and the global community. He had indeed left a good and lasting mark on the world.

Dr. Chan's sphere of influence extended beyond paediatrics to other medical professionals. He was the President of Federation of Medical Societies of Hong Kong for 12 years from 1991-2003. During his leadership period, he was able to consolidate the membership of the Federation to include almost all learned academic medical societies in Hong Kong. And he also extended the membership to most allied health societies. From then on, FMSHK becomes the only society in Hong Kong that can represent all medical and health care professionals alike. The monthly journal of FMSHK, the Hong Kong Medical Diary, is a very popular journal that allows different specialties to exchange their views. To honor Dr Chan's contribution, he was elected as one of the three Honorary Presidents of the FMSHK in 2021.

As a firm believer in team approach towards promotion of child health, Dr. Chan always put strong emphasis on close collaboration between doctors, nurses, midwives, allied health professionals and the child as well as synergistic cooperation between the medical, social and education sectors. He was instrumental in the formation of many nursing professional bodies in Hong Kong, the Asia-Pacific Region and the global community and facilitated the specialization of Paediatric Nursing in Hong Kong. His enthusiasm also extended to support the development of other allied health professionals in particular the young professionals in training.

Dr. Chan was a dedicated and passionate paediatrician with global vision who has devoted his lifetime working for a better world for children. He was a phenomenal leader, a righteous colleague and a respectable mentor particularly inspiring to young paediatricians. Those who had the privilege working with him would vividly recall his energetic driving force at meetings, even to early hours in the morning; his impressive teaching at lectures, with or without amplifier; his witty synopsis of debates and powerful conclusion of disputes. He emphasized quality child health care, professional ethics and fraternity as the fundamental pillars of our society. We shall always remember his doctrine on our Society as "a Society of the members, for the members and by the members".

Our beloved mentor and friend passed away peacefully at the age of 82 years old on 19th November 2023 in Hong Kong. He is survived by his four daughters, four son-in-law and eight grandchildren. To his family, we would like to convey our most sincere condolences. To the healthcare professionals, we shall forever miss him and we shall continue his passion on child health!

"Life every man holds dear,
but the dear man holds honour far more precious dear than life"


Past Presidents of HKPS
Dr. William WONG (2002-2004)
Dr. TSOI Nai Shun, Nelson (2006-2008)
Dr. YU Chak Man, Aaron (2008-2010)
Dr. WONG Hiu Lei, Lilian (2014-2016)
Prof. CHAN Chi Fung, Godfrey (2016-2018)
On behalf of the Council of the Hong Kong Paediatric Society
3rd December 2023, Hong Kong



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