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Duncan Selbie's Friday message - 8 December 2017

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Dear everyone

Liver disease is the fourth most common cause of early avoidable death in people under the age of 75, and is almost entirely preventable. In September we published our 2nd Atlas of Variation in Risk Factors and Healthcare for Liver Disease, which is a rich data source showing a wide variation of premature mortality rates across England. Professor Julia Verne, who leads on liver disease for PHE, spoke about this resource at an event last week to mark the 4th annual report of the Lancet Commission into Liver Disease. The Atlas received high praise for being both practical and valuable for clinicians and policy makers and is a star example of collaboration with the NHS, third sector and academe.

Whether you are three or 93, keeping active is an important part of staying healthy. This week Sport England announced pilots in 12 geographies to identify better ways to address inequalities and break down barriers that stop people getting active. Barriers such as poor transport, safety, money and confidence all stop people being physically active, so by looking at how all parts of communities can work better together, Sport England aim to reach and help the most inactive. You can learn more on their website.

Public health knows no international border and this week our National Infection Service was contracted to support the Government of Angola to improve their epidemiological surveillance and capacity. The aim being to strengthen the control of infectious diseases and the surveillance system of notifiable infections, improve the surveillance capabilities of the national reference laboratory and consolidate the national network of epidemiologists. We also signed a memorandum of understanding with the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control, to work alongside them and the World Health Organization on strengthening compliance with the International Health Regulations and next week a small team will be travelling to Nigeria to share our technical expertise on emergency preparedness, resilience and response.

On Wednesday we launched the latest edition of our professional resource Health Matters, this time focusing on productive healthy ageing and musculoskeletal health. 40% of people of working age with an MSK condition are unemployed and these conditions were the second biggest cause of sickness absence in 2016. This is an extremely important area for both individual health and UK productivity, affecting the economy and wider society. You can see the full edition here, and learn more in our blog.

Campaign magazine is the bible for the marketing industry and each year names its top 10 Marketers in the UK. It is incredibly rare for a marketing director from the public sector to appear in the list, but our own marketing director Sheila Mitchell is included this year, recognised for her brilliant work on public health campaigns.  The list reflects the cream of the marketing Industry including Sainsbury’s, M&S, BT, Audi and John Lewis. This is a great accolade for Sheila personally and speaks volumes about the work and impact of the whole PHE marketing team.

And finally, today we submit evidence to the Commons Select Committee on Science and Technology on e-cigarettes. This covers their safety, effectiveness as a stop smoking tool, patterns of use among adults and young people, and the regulations guiding their safety, promotion and accessibility. When we published our evidence review on e-cigarettes in 2015 we paved the way for wider thinking around tobacco policy, both in the UK and internationally. The British Medical Association recently became the latest organisation to publish their own position on e-cigarettes, which is closely aligned with our own, and we will publish our next independent evidence review in January.

With best wishes,





Friday messages from 2012-2016 are available on GOV.UK

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