According to the World Organisation for Animal Health, over 70% of the new infectious diseases that have affected humans over the past decade have been caused by pathogens originating from animals, for example, the sources of avian influenza and SARS. It is to prevent the emergence of such zoonotic diseases that health experts from all over the world are now advocating the concept of ‘One Health’, which recognises the inter-relationship between animals, humans and environmental health. To help Hong Kong keep abreast of this issue, The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust has agreed to donate HK$500 million to City University of Hong Kong (CityU) to establish the Jockey Club One Health Tower as an educational and research base for veterinary medicine and life sciences.
Officiating guests at today’s (21 November) ceremony included the Club’s Chairman Dr Simon S O Ip and Chief Executive Officer Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges; Chief Secretary for Administration of the Hong Kong SAR Matthew Cheung; and CityU’s Council Chairman Herman Hu and President Professor Way Kuo.
Dr Ip told the audience that education had been a major focus for the Club. “The Jockey Club One Health Tower is greatly important. Not only will it provide additional and much-needed space for CityU; it will also provide a home to the new Jockey Club College of Veterinary Medicine and Life Sciences,” he said. “This college represents an innovation in Hong Kong medicine. Under the banner of ‘One Health’ it brings together veterinary medicine and biomedical sciences in one institution. As such it embodies the important insight that the health of human beings is intimately connected with the health of animals and with the environment in which they co-exist.”
Mr Cheung shared his view at today’s ceremony that the global scientific community had to gear up for the challenges ahead by adopting a more holistic approach in health risk management which could be achieved by further developing the ‘One Health’ concept. In this regard, the establishment of the Jockey Club One Health Tower was a timely and wise move.
Professor Hu expressed his gratitude to the Club for its generous donation. “CityU and the Club’s Charities Trust share a common mission to improve quality of life and community well-being,” he said. “The Jockey Club One Health Tower will establish a unique hub whereby CityU can bring together valuable resources and international expertise that will contribute to the prevention of infectious disease as well as to the sustainable development of Hong Kong and the region.”
The 12-storey Jockey Club One Health Tower, with a total floor space of over 16,500 square metres, is scheduled for completion in the last quarter of 2022. The tower will be equipped with state-of-the-art facilities for teaching and research, including laboratories and offices. The new tower will also be home to CityU’s auditorium and indoor sports hall.
In addition, the tower will house Hong Kong’s first Jockey Club College of Veterinary Medicine and Life Sciences, which comprises two departments. The Department of Biomedical Sciences is intended to become a centre for biomedical education and research on cancer, neuroscience and regenerative medicine, while the Department of Infectious Diseases and Public Health will pursue research in areas such as emerging infectious diseases, food safety and aquatic production. The latter will also oversee Hong Kong’s first professional veterinary Bachelor’s degree programme, launched by CityU this year under the concept of ‘One Health’.
Since 1994, the Trust has supported a number of CityU projects including the establishment of student hostels which have provided over 2,800 hostel places in three phases. The Trust also supports CoolThink@JC, a project in collaboration with CityU, aimed at strengthening upper primary students’ computational thinking abilities. In addition, CityU is one of the institutions benefiting from The Hong Kong Jockey Club Scholarships, which are awarded to outstanding tertiary students in Hong Kong.
The Hong Kong Jockey Club
Founded in 1884, The Hong Kong Jockey Club is a world-class racing club that acts continuously for the betterment of our society. The Club has a unique integrated business model, comprising racing and racecourse entertainment, a membership club, responsible sports wagering and lottery, and charities and community contribution. Through this model, the Club generates economic and social value for the community and supports the Government in combatting illegal gambling. In 2016/17, the Club’s total direct return to the community was HK$30.5 billion. It is Hong Kong's largest single taxpayer, one of the city’s major employers and one of the world's top ten charity donors. The Club is always "riding high together for a better future" with the people of Hong Kong.
Club Chairman Dr Simon S O Ip says the Jockey Club One Health Tower will provide additional and much-needed space for CityU, and provide a home to the new Jockey Club College of Veterinary Medicine and Life Sciences.
Officiating at the cheque presentation ceremony for the Jockey Club One Health Tower are the Club’s Chairman Dr Simon S O Ip (2nd left) and Chief Executive Officer Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges (1st left); Chief Secretary for Administration of the Hong Kong SAR Matthew Cheung (centre); and CityU’s Council Chairman Herman Hu (2nd right) and President Professor Way Kuo (1st right).