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Duncan Selbie’s Friday message – 15 December 2017

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Dear everyone

Metro Mayors are changing the policy and governance landscape across the country, with the elections earlier this year meaning they now cover 20% of the population of England. Their introduction coincides with the publication of the new Industrial Strategy and at the heart of this is the understanding that health begets wealth and to improve our economy, we must improve the health of our people. PHE commissioned Metro Dynamics to carry out a review of the inclusive growth opportunities for mayors and we will be working with each mayoral team in the coming months to see where we can complement and add value to the input of local public health teams.

Today sees the launch of our ‘Protect against STIs’ sexual health campaign, the first national sexual health campaign in eight years. Targeted at young people, aged between 16 and 24, the campaign aims to reduce the rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) by promoting condom use. In 2016, 51% of the new STI diagnoses were in young adults and our advertising has been designed specifically for this age group and will be seen across social and digital platforms such as Instagram Stories, Snapchat Filters and Promoted Stories, featuring real people talking about their personal experiences of having an STI.

The West African Ebola outbreak in 2015 was a significant moment for the international community. For PHE, the outbreak led to our first large scale international deployment, with many members of staff travelling to West Africa to work in intensely challenging and unprecedented conditions. Today we are hosting an event to look back on all that we learnt from this experience so we can be as ready as possible for the next outbreak of international concern. We will be receiving contributions during the day from Sierra Leone, international partners, and our own colleagues from the Department for International Development, the Foreign Office and the Department of Health.

Surveillance is a core function for PHE and ensures that the right information is available at the right time to inform public health policy and practice. The opportunities provided by good quality surveillance are significant and help us protect people, improve services and keep abreast with emerging public health priorities. This week we have published our overall approach to surveillance, emphasising its continuing importance across all our work, and describing a framework for how we will develop our surveillance capability, for both infectious and non-communicable diseases. You can see this here.

And finally, on Wednesday evening PHE was given planning permission to create our world class science campus and headquarters in Harlow, Essex. This is a massive public investment in public health science in the UK. PHE Harlow, as the campus will be known, is expected to house up to 2,750 people by 2024, with the moves expected to start in 2021. This is a significant milestone and my especial thanks to Tim Harry, the programme director, for his tireless work over many years in getting to this point.

Best wishes

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