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Duncan Selbie's Friday message - 7 December 2018

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Dear everyone

I am writing this week from Pakistan, where PHE has been working since 2016 on behalf of the UK government with the Pakistan federal and provincial governments as they improve their systems for disease surveillance and response, an international responsibility under the WHO International Health Regulations. A nation of 208 million people, Pakistan and the UK share a common heritage, families and professional networks, with more than one million people with joint citizenship and almost two million travelling each year between our two countries. So we have a shared interest in getting this right and the progress over the past three years under the Pakistan local leadership, supported by our in country team led by Dr Anne Wilson, has been palpable. We have particularly seen progress in the development of the National Institute of Health, and in the Pakistan Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Province – two of the four regions.

Our work programme with Pakistan extends to 2021, with the funding moving in April from the Department for International Development (DFID) to the Department of Health and Social Care. Our warm thanks go to the Pakistan DFID team for their exceptional support throughout our first three years, and as we strengthen our work together with the 14 other UK government agencies with a presence here to support Pakistan’s future prosperity and security.

There are about 200,000 children in England living with parents who have significant alcohol problems, and the impact on their lives can be devastating and haunt them into adulthood. So we are pleased this week to confirm two pots of funding. One of £4.5 million that has been awarded to nine local areas for new and innovative ways of identifying and supporting children where there are alcohol problems in the family. The other, and against a backdrop of falling numbers in treatment, is seeking bids from local authorities against a £6 million capital fund which is targeted at increasing access to alcohol treatment for the nearly 600,000 people in England with alcohol dependent problems. Decisions on the capital fund are expected by March 2019.

The United Nations (UN) has set a global ambition known as UNAIDS which aims to diagnose 90% of all HIV positive people, treat 90% of those diagnosed, and achieve viral suppression for 90% of those treated, by 2020. This week, London became one of three cities worldwide to achieve this and is the first city to achieve 95-95-95 – currently at 95-98-97 – proving that HIV prevention is working in the UK. Our goal is to eliminate all new cases by 2030, and the Mayor of London will host the first international gathering of Fast Track Cities next year. With an estimated 8,000 people in England unaware of their infection, there is further work to do and our report provides guidance to the NHS and local government on ensuring pathways of care are open to those at risk of and living with HIV.

Health Matters, our digital resource for commissioners and healthcare professionals, highlights resources that can support local and national action to address leading public health concerns, and brings together the latest data and evidence, making the case for effective interventions. This year, we have published seven editions including one on Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, air pollution and smoking. Each is launched through a teleconference regularly attracting hundreds of participants and includes a suite of materials that you can download and use in presentations and on social media. We will be publishing the final edition of the year on 18 December, which will focus on reducing health inequalities for those who experience mental illness. You can sign up to join the launch teleconference.

And finally, this week PHE confirmed that there have been no further cases of monkeypox following the three individuals diagnosed in the UK in September. I would like to thank everyone involved across the NHS, PHE and local government in responding to this unique outbreak and the first in Europe. Important work well done.

Best wishes


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  1. Comment by sally hounslow posted on

    Alcoholics need treatment centres , ther are not enough NHS places, that is where the money needs to go.Children won't need so much help if you treat the parents.