The UK’s Infectious Disease Prevention Strategy Announced

PHE hopes to reduce vaccine-preventable disease by improving the uptake of existing vaccines and implementing new and improved vaccines
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United Kingdom (Vax Before Travel)

The United Kingdom’s Public Health England (PHE) announced a new 5-year infectious disease strategy to address urgent current and future threats to human health.

This new strategy published on September 11, 2019, seeks to strengthen the ‘PHE’s ability to prevent, detect, respond to and reduce the impact of infectious diseases.’

And, the PHE intends to ‘integrate innovative new diagnostic technologies and world-class surveillance systems, to implement unrivaled infection prevention and control capabilities within our changing world.’

The PHE said in a press release that ‘threats to public health in England include:

  • antibiotic resistance
  • declining vaccination rates
  • pandemic flu
  • emerging diseases
  • health inequalities

Globally, the infectious disease's challenges today are amplified by the increased movement of people and climate change, which increases the chances of a global pandemic.

PHE is already seeing a rise in ‘emerging infections’ - newly recognized diseases that are increasing in a specific place, or among a specific population.

The PHE, or its predecessors, detected 12 diseases and infections for the first time in the last decade. The infections were mainly acquired abroad, but some were acquired in England.

Professor Sharon Peacock CBE, Director of the National Infection Service, PHE, said in this press release, “Our mission is to prevent, detect, respond to and reduce the impact of infectious diseases in this country.” 

“Our national immunization program prevents around 2.75 million cases of infectious diseases a year, while serious diseases, such as TB are at record lows.”

“But, infectious diseases are evolving, and we must continue to innovate and strengthen the science that keeps us safe – whether that’s whole genome sequencing to rapidly contain outbreaks of known infections or enhanced surveillance and preparedness for when an unknown disease strikes,” said Peacock.

As part of this new ‘Long Term Plan’, the NHS said it ‘will reduce the use of antibiotics by a further 15 percent to keep them as effective as possible, for example by offering patients access to new treatments, and will embrace new technologies so the NHS can act sooner to prevent ill health developing in the first place.’

The Strategy is developed on core functions and enablers such as our workforce and innovative technology, that enable us to deliver these 10 strategic priorities:

  • optimize vaccine provision and reduce vaccine-preventable diseases in England
  • be a global leader in tackling antimicrobial resistance
  • capitalize on emerging technologies to enhance our data and infectious disease surveillance capability
  • eliminate hepatitis B and C, tuberculosis and HIV and halt the rise of sexually transmitted infections in our population
  • strengthen our response to major incidents and emergencies, including pandemic influenza
  • build evidence to address infectious diseases linked with health inequalities
  • embed Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) in PHE labs and optimize the use of WGS-based information
  • integrate and strengthen England’s health protection system
  • strengthen our Global Health activities to protect health in the UK and globally
  • define the value generated by delivering the Infectious Diseases Strategy.

For more information, please visit the UK PHE site. 

Published by Vax Before Travel

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Article by
Dani Reiter