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No one can be responsible for your own health except yourself. In the fight against infectious disease, individuals need to maintain good hygiene for themselves, their families and the community at large. The Hygiene Charter was launched in Hong Kong during the epidemics of SARS as a continuing effort in the fight against the infection.1 The charter has put forward suggestions and guidelines on hygiene practices for individuals, management, and business and organisations over 10 sectors. It aims to encourage individuals, as well as business and industry sectors, to pledge their commitment to creating a new culture of hygiene in Hong Kong.
Effective public health practice needs to involve the community at large and encourage people to be involved in all decision making processes relating to health. Up to January 2004 the numbers in each sector who had signed this Hygiene Charter were as follows: personal and family (20 651), education (258), social welfare (199), finance and commercial (54), building (27), medical and health (24), industrial (22), sports and culture (18), catering (14), public transportation (12), tourism (12), and government department (4).2
In coping with epidemics of infectious disease, one would consider a healthy epidemic.
The Healthy Cities movement, can provide a framework for an integrated and holistic approach to public health. The Hygiene Charter has facilitated the individual citizen to take positive action, increase individual awareness of health and hygiene, and create a healthy living environment.
I would like to acknowledge members of the Steering Committee and Working Group of Operation UNITE for the advice and continuing support.