HPS Weekly Report
26 Jun 2018
Volume 52 No. 25
New destination for immunisation information in Scotland
From June 28 2018, there will be a new online location for information about immunisation and vaccines in Scotland.
NHS Inform is Scotland’s national health information service, aiming to be the single source of health information online for the public in Scotland. The website helps the people of Scotland to make informed decisions about their own health and the health of people they care for. Therefore, on 28 June 2018, the Immunisation Scotland website will close and NHSScotland’s immunisation and vaccine web content will move to the new site.
NHS Inform was redesigned in November 2016 and is now accessible across all mobile devices. The improved accessibility, navigation and user experience has contributed to a significant increase in users, with over 1.7 million individual users visiting in May 2018. The site also has a ‘webchat’ function where the public can ask questions about all health topics, including vaccines.
HPV vaccine reduces cancer causing infection in England by 86 per cent
New surveillance data from England, published on 18 June 2018 in the Journal of Infectious Diseases, has found that the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination has led to significant reductions in the number of young women who have the infection. HPV16 and 18 infections, which cause most cervical cancer cases, decreased by 86% in women aged 16 to 21 who were eligible for the vaccination as adolescents between 2010 and 2016.
The results suggest that the HPV vaccination programme will bring about large reductions in cervical cancer in the future. In addition, the programme has led to a marked decline in genital wart diagnoses. Between 2009 and 2017 the number of genital wart diagnoses in sexual health clinics in England fell in girls aged 15 to 17 by 89% and in boys of the same age by 70%.
The HPV vaccination programme was first introduced in 2008. Over 80% of people aged 15 to 24 have now been vaccinated in the UK and 80 million have received the vaccine worldwide.
Source: PHE, 18 June 2018
WHO releases new International Classification of Diseases ICD-11
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has launched a revised version of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD). This is the basis for identifying health trends and statistics worldwide and contains approximately 55,000 unique codes for injuries, diseases and causes of death.
ICD-11 will be presented at the World Health Assembly in May 2019 for adoption by member states and will come into effect on 1 January 2022. This release is an advance preview that will allow countries to plan how to use the new version, prepare translations and train health professionals.
The ICD-11 has taken over a decade to compile and offers significant improvements on previous versions. It is now completely electronic with a more user-friendly format. It is able to better capture data regarding safety in healthcare, which means that unnecessary events that may harm health – such as unsafe workflows in hospitals - can be identified and reduced. The ICD-11 also includes new chapters on topics such as traditional medicine and sexual health.
Source: WHO, 18 June 2018
Acrylamide and furan in retail foods survey results published
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has published the results of a study looking at the levels of acrylamide and furan in an extensive range of UK retail foods.
Acrylamide is a chemical created when some foods, such as potatoes and bread, are cooked for long periods at high temperatures. Furan can be produced in food and drink when naturally occurring sugars, polyunsaturated fats and ascorbic acid (vitamin C) degrade when they are heat treated.
Based on samples taken from 271 products collected between January 2017 and December 2017, the survey gives a snapshot of the range of acrylamide and furan levels in UK retail foods. Of the 271 products sampled, 269 were analysed for acrylamide and 120 analysed for furan. The levels of acrylamide and furan found over the period of January to December 2017 do not increase the FSA’s concern about the risk to human health and they will not be changing their advice to consumers.
This study is part of an on-going programme in response to European Commission recommendations to all member states to investigate the levels of acrylamide and furan in food.
Source: FSA, 22 June 2018
EFSA evaluates emergency use of neonicotinoids
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has investigated the scientific basis for the emergency authorisation of neonicotinoid pesticides in seven EU Member States (Bulgaria, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania and Romania) in 2017.
In 2013 the European Commission placed restrictions on the use of pesticide products containing the active substances clothianidin, thiamethoxam and imidacloprid. This followed an assessment by the EFSA which showed that the substances posed risks to bee health (see current note 52/1710).
Member state governments may override the restrictions and issue emergency authorisations in cases where there is evidence that the threat from particular plant pests cannot be contained by other means. Several member states have repeatedly granted such authorisations since 2013.
The EFSA’s reports evaluate on a country-by-country basis whether other pesticides could have been substituted for the neonicotinoid products as well as assessing the availability of non-insecticidal alternatives.
Source: EFSA, 21 June 2018
Scots urged to drink tap water from reusable bottles
A campaign has been launched to encourage people to fill up reusable bottles with tap water. The ‘Your Water, Your Life’ campaign aims to make tap the first choice for Scotland’s water drinkers, emphasising the environmental, health and financial benefits.
Research shows that 73% of people in Scotland mostly drink tap water, however less than a third (31%) drink tap water from a reusable bottle when they are away from home. Businesses are being asked to make it easier for customers to top up refillable containers at their premises as part of the campaign.
Source: Scottish Water, 20 June 2018
Ban on the sale of products containing microbeads in England and Scotland
A ban on the sale of products containing microbeads came into force on 19 June 2018 across England and Scotland. This is part of the UK Government’s efforts to prevent these harmful pieces of plastic entering the marine environment.
Retailers will no longer be able to sell rinse-off cosmetics and personal care products that contain microbeads – the tiny pieces of plastic often added to products such as face scrubs, soaps, toothpaste and shower gels.
This announcement follows a ban on the manufacture of products containing microbeads in January 2018.
Source: UK Government, 19 June 2018
Communities to receive help to reduce plastic waste and marine litter
Communities in Scotland will be able to bid for a share of up to £500,000 to reduce single-use plastics.
The new ‘Action on Plastic Zero Waste Towns’ initiative will provide community groups with funding to deliver actions which would benefit their environment and local economy. This may include the introduction of water bottle refill facilities, switching all single-use items in the community to the same material to make recycling easier or replacing single-use takeaway containers with reusable systems.
Scottish Government awards £2 million in grants to fund offshore wind innovation
The Scottish Government has announced £2 million in funding to encourage innovation in the offshore wind energy sector and reduce development costs. The funding is targeted at supporting innovation across the sector to reduce long-term costs, improving health and safety standards and widening educational opportunities within the industry.
Scotland’s plan for a tobacco-free generation
Further actions to stop young people taking up smoking and raise a tobacco-free generation have been outlined in the Scottish Government’s updated Tobacco Control Action Plan.
The five-year plan sets out 44 specific actions to address health inequalities and cut smoking rates in the communities where people find it most difficult to quit. These include legislating to restrict smoking around hospital buildings, banning tobacco in prisons and establishing a new national brand for the stop-smoking service.
ECDC launches emergency preparedness self-assessment tool
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has launched the Health Emergency Preparedness Self-Assessment (HEPSA) tool, in order to support countries in improving their level of public health emergency preparedness.
This tool supports the evaluation of levels of preparedness and contributes to the identification of potential gaps. It also supports interactions among stakeholders to discuss themes related to public health emergency preparedness. Based on the outcomes of the self-assessment, areas for improvement can be identified and actions can be taken by the countries in order to strengthen their capacities.
The HEPSA tool is worksheet based and is targeted at professionals in public health organisations responsible for emergency planning and event management. It consists of seven sections:
- pre-event preparations and governance
- resources: trained workforce
- support capacity: surveillance
- support capacity: risk assessment
- event response management
- post-event review
- implementation of lessons learned
Source: ECDC, 20 June 2018