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Duncan Selbie's Friday message - 23 February 2018

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Dear everyone

I had the privilege of spending the morning in Blackpool on Monday and to see again at first hand how local government are tackling the root causes of poor health through a focus on re-energising their housing policy, employment opportunities and improving their schools, amongst much else. For all their challenges, and there are many, Blackpool is a hopeful place with an inspiring leadership team.

Every day science saves lives. PHE employs over three thousand scientists across the country and their work, often done under the radar and with zero fanfare, protects the lives of people here and overseas. This week we launched a new series called Disease Detectives, which will showcase our science and the profile of scientists through a range of different publications. The first piece comes from our Emerging Infections and Zoonoses team and focuses on how they detect new and emerging infectious diseases as early and quickly as possible, raising awareness for clinicians, laboratories and across Government. Disease Detectives will feature a wide range of areas within public health science, from whole genome sequencing, to how we monitor flu and create vaccines. You will find future blogs from the series here.

Staying with infectious disease, for example the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, early diagnosis in the field can contain outbreaks and save countless lives. Work is ongoing in the wake of Ebola to ensure that we are better placed to face such an outbreak in the future and innovation is at the heart of this. PHE researchers have worked with a team from across Europe to develop a Mobile Filovirus Nucleic Acid Test (the MOFINA programme), funded by the Innovative Medicines Initiative, which has led to the creation of a portable device that can be used in the field to test for a number of infections, for example Ebola, and it gives a reliable result within 75 minutes. This technology can be used in someone’s home or village, meaning suspected cases need not have to travel, sometimes many miles, to treatment centres. To have this capability will be of huge benefit for future outbreaks.

And finally, falls are common and costly. In England every year, one quarter of a million falls-related emergency hospital admissions are from people aged over 65 and the NHS spends an estimated 4.4 billion on fragility fractures. PHE has developed a return on investment tool which assesses falls prevention interventions for older people, allowing those setting policy to choose the best interventions for their area. You can access the tool here and read more in our blog.

With best wishes,

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  1. Comment by Esther Ekong posted on

    The busy working day of a health protection practitioner does not always afford you the opportunity of keeping abreast of what is new outside your area of practice so I often head to Duncan's Friday messages to see what is new in PHE. It is timesaving and I like the links.

    Disease Detectives - Interesting to see the extent they go to obtain information.
    I think the portable device that has come out of the MOFINA programme will be an absolute winner - fantastic!!