New infectious disease strategy launched

Public Health England has launched a new strategy to address current and future threats to health, including antibiotic resistance and health inequalities.

19 new genetic mechanisms of antibiotic resistance have been identified in bacteria causing infections in the UK over the last decade.

Public Health England has set out a new five-year Infectious Diseases Strategy to address urgent current and future threats to our health, including: antibiotic resistance; declining vaccination rates; pandemic flu; emerging diseases; and health inequalities. This will strengthen PHE’s ability to prevent, detect, respond to and reduce the impact of infectious diseases.

PHE is already seeing a rise in ‘emerging infections’ - newly recognised diseases that are increasing in a specific place, or among a specific population. A total of 12 diseases and infections were detected in England for the first time in the last 10 years – either acquired abroad or in this country, including swine flu, Middle East respiratory syndrome, Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever, and monkeypox.

Sharon Peacock, director of the National Infection Service, PHE, said: “Our mission is to prevent, detect, respond to and reduce the impact of infectious diseases in this country. Our national immunisation programme 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.”

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