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UKHSA launches new strategy to tackle national and global health hazards

By July 28, 2023No Comments

The new strategy sets out UKHSA’s vision and goals for the next 3 years to prepare for and respond to health threats and build the capabilities and technologies to protect the country in the future.

The strategy promises that UKHSA will drive innovation and growth in the life sciences industry, particularly in diagnostics, emerging technologies, and the development and evaluation of vaccines.

They have also pledged to play a significant role in the 100 Day Mission – an initiative to make safe, effective vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics for unknown diseases within 100 days of identification.

To help tackle AMR, UKHSA will improve laboratory diagnostics for AMR infections, using a range of scientific methods to test bacterial responses to antimicrobials.

Moreover, they intend to strengthen genomics capabilities to support improved responses to infectious diseases through rapid identification of pathogens, improving understanding of patterns of transmission and informing decisions about interventions, the development of diagnostics, assessments of vaccine effectiveness and new vaccine development.

In the strategy, UKHSA have laid out their 6 general strategic priorities for the strategy, which are:

  1. Be ready to respond to all hazards to health

We will ensure we have the right plans, expertise, infrastructure, capabilities and countermeasures in place to mount agile and resilient responses to health security threats, including pandemics, working across the health system to develop capability for scalability and robust planning.

  1. Improve health outcomes through vaccines

We will harness UKHSA’s strengths across the whole vaccine pathway to facilitate innovation in the development of safe and effective vaccines, ensuring reliable procurement and increasing uptake among the population, thereby reducing the burden of infectious disease.

  1. Reduce the impact of infectious diseases and antimicrobial resistance

We will harness our science, analytical and operational expertise to minimise the impact of infectious disease, with a focus over the next 3 years on COVID-19, antimicrobial resistance and progression of elimination targets for bloodborne viruses and tuberculosis (TB).

  1. Protect health from threats in the environment

We will protect the population from the health effects of environmental, chemical, radiological and nuclear incidents of any scale by improving planning and preparedness and providing public health expertise to inform policy and response.

  1. Improve action on health security through data and insight

We will maximise our partnerships and the health impact of the data we hold, the evidence we generate and the insights we draw, to be a leader in safe and regulated handling and use of public health data, analytics and surveillance.

  1. Develop UKHSA as a high-performing agency

We will ensure UKHSA is ready to prepare for and respond to health security challenges by investing in our people and culture; partnerships and relationships; data, science and research and operational excellence.

The UKHSA strategy is underpinned by a commitment to deliver more equitable health outcomes. Health threats often disproportionately impact certain groups and therefore tackling health inequalities is central to UKHSA’s work. We actively address this across all of our programmes, working closely with the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID).

New and emerging diseases, increased global movement and environmental change are already amplifying the health security challenges which the UK and the global community are facing. These threats, and others, are set to rise in coming years.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently identified antimicrobial resistance (AMR) as one of the top 10 global public health threats – there were just under 5 million deaths associated with bacterial AMR in 2019, and this figure is predicted to double by 2050.

Novel and emerging diseases, like mpox and AH5N1 avian influenza, and increasing global movement exacerbate the risk of imported diseases, highlighting the need for robust pandemic preparedness plans.