Doctor of Social Sciences, honoris causa (2018)
Dr Ko Wing-man is an eminent leader in public health services in Hong Kong. He began serving in the Hospital Authority (HA) in the early 1990s and became its Acting Chief Executive from 2003 to 2004, and in 2012 he was appointed Secretary for Food and Health of the Hong Kong Government, a post he served until 2017. Dr Ko described his 25 years of public service as a “blessed and unique career”, in which he was able to blend his frontline clinical experience as an orthopaedic specialist with public health management perspectives. As a child, he was inspired by the work ethics of his father, who imparted upon him a generous attitude, one of giving without expecting a fair return. Carrying this attitude with him, Dr Ko became firmly committed to promoting and protecting the health of all citizens in Hong Kong, and enhancing food safety and environmental hygiene services in Hong Kong.
Dr Ko obtained his Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery degree from The University of Hong Kong in 1981 and Master of Health Administration from the University of New South Wales, Australia in 1993. He was elected Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, the United Kingdom in 1986; Fellow of the Hong Kong Academy of Medicine in Orthopaedic Surgery and Community Medicine in 1993 and 2000 respectively. In 2002, he received another Fellowship from the Faculty of Public Health Medicine, Royal College of Physicians of the United Kingdom.
With the outbreak of a new infectious disease, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), in Guangdong province toward the end of 2002, Dr Ko as Director of Professional Services and Public Affairs of the HA responsible for infection control had already established a survey mechanism for atypical pneumonia. In March 2003, he first became aware of the outbreak in Hong Kong when many staff at Prince of Wales Hospital fell ill. The outbreak spread rapidly in our communities and to other countries. When the then Chief Executive of the HA became infected with SARS, Dr Ko was appointed Acting Chief Executive, working around the clock and remaining firmly at his post throughout the entire outbreak. Tested on his resolve and working under the heavy scrutiny of the media and the public, Dr Ko nonetheless maintained stability in the system and the public’s confidence by advancing a united professional effort to fight the outbreak together.
One of the hallmarks of Dr Ko’s professional life is his determination to pioneer new approaches and models of healthcare. His work in 2008 in the aftermath of the Sichuan earthquake is a good example. At that time, Dr Ko pioneered a new cooperative rehabilitation model to care for victims of the earthquake. Involving doctors and medical students, social workers, physical therapists, and others, the model allowed doctors like himself to work side-by-side with his Mainland counterparts to make joint treatment decisions. In recognition of his long service in the public health sector, especially for his pioneering work in enhancing Hong Kong-Mainland medical exchanges, Dr Ko was awarded the Bronze Bauhinia Star in 2008 and the Gold Bauhinia Star in 2017.
Dr Ko has contributed greatly to Hong Kong Baptist University, serving as a Member of the Council and its Personnel Committee from 2008 to 2012. He also lent great support to the development of the School of Chinese Medicine by serving as Honorary Professor and Chairman of its Advisory Committee. A doctor of Western medicine, Dr Ko made a commitment to study the history of Chinese Medicine and promote Chinese Medicine development in Hong Kong.
Dr Ko believes in the importance of loyal camaraderie with his peers. Twice on the “hot seats” in the public sector, he advanced and retreated in steps with his close colleagues. “Situations with great complexity and public consequence call for a careful and empathetic approach. Success or failure depends on our resolve, stability, and most importantly, our steadfast, loyal and united efforts,” said Dr Ko. A public servant with perseverance and dedication, Dr Ko Wing-man has exerted a positive and lasting influence on innumerable colleagues throughout his longstanding career. His devotion and many contributions to healthcare reform especially in the public hospital sector, his pioneering spirit, and his exemplary character, are highly commendable.