HPS Weekly Report
16 Apr 2019
Volume 53 No. 15
World Malaria Day 25 April 2019
World Malaria Day is on 25 April this year. Each year World Malaria Day highlights the global efforts to control malaria. Invaluable progress has been made, saving millions of lives, however few significant gains were made in reducing malaria between 2015-2018.
The World Malaria Report 2018 documents that there was an estimated 219 million cases of malaria and 435,000 deaths from malaria worldwide in 2017, which remained virtually unchanged from the previous year.
This year’s theme is ‘Zero Malaria Starts with Me’ a grassroots campaign that aims to keep malaria high on the political agenda, mobilize additional resources, and empower communities to take ownership of malaria prevention and care.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) and its partners call for greater investment in prevention, diagnosis and treatment of malaria and have set the following targets for 2020:
- elimination of malaria in at least 10 countries that were malaria endemic in 2015.
- malaria mortality rates and incidence are reduced by at least 40% compared with
- malaria does not re-emerge in countries that were malaria-free in 2015.
Information about malaria and its prevention can be found on the Travax malaria pages
Material to support World Malaria Day, including a social media toolkit, can be found on the RMB partnership website
PHE report on hepatitis C in England
Public Health England (PHE) has published the 2019 annual hepatitis C virus (HCV) report for England and supporting data. HCV is a major public health threat in the UK. The report summarises the scale of the problem and is intended to support focused action.
The newly published data shows that deaths from serious hepatitis C related liver disease fell from 380 to 319, a 16.1% decrease, between 2015-2017 thanks to new curative treatments. However while England has exceeded the World Health Organization’s (WHO) target to reduce hepatitis C related mortality by 10% by 2020, challenges still exist to eliminate the disease.
As well as the fall in hepatitis C deaths, greater access to new curative treatments is also linked to a reduction in the number of people with the disease requiring liver transplants. In 2017, registrations for a liver transplant due to hepatitis C fell to a 10-year low of 63, a 53% decrease compared to pre-2015 levels.
Challenges to meeting the WHO target of eliminating hepatitis C by 2030 remain, with 113,000 people estimated to be living with chronic hepatitis C in England in 2018.
Estimates indicate that up to 79,000 people are currently living with undiagnosed active hepatitis C infection. This is because people with the infection often have no specific symptoms until their liver has been significantly damaged and so are unaware they are infected. When symptoms do occur, they can often be mistaken for other conditions.
PHE is urging those who may have been at risk of contracting hepatitis C, especially if they have ever injected drugs, to get tested.
The slide set and infographic which accompanies the 2019 report are also available to download.
Also available on the PHE website are the latest reports on the situation in the whole of the UK (2018), the headline data table for the HCV in England 2019 report and the HCV in England 2018 report.
Sources: PHE, 9 April 2019 and PHE, 9 April 2019
New policy brief on antimicrobial resistance
The European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies has published a new policy brief which summarizes some of the key policy avenues for tackling antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
Following the widely accepted ‘One Health’ approach to combating AMR, the brief aims to support the implementation of national action plans (NAPs) on AMR, drawing on numerous examples of effective policies implemented by European Union (EU) member states and involving the human, animal and environmental health sectors.
The policy brief was prepared to support the Romanian EU council presidency, which hosted a conference on ‘Next Steps to Making the EU a Good Practice in Combating Resistance to Antimicrobials’ in Bucharest, 1 March 2019.
It draws significantly on a forthcoming study, Challenges in Tackling Antimicrobial Resistance: Economic and Policy Responses, being co-produced by the Observatory and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
Source: WHO, 9 April 2019
ECDC publishes new annual epidemiological reports and risk assessments
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has published two annual epidemiological reports and two new rapid risk assessments.
The epidemiological reports (using 2017 data) are:
• dengue fever
• shiga toxin/verocytotoxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC/VTEC) infection
The new rapid risk assessments are:
• Cyclone Idai - risk of communicable diseases in southern africa
• zika virus transmission worldwide
Source: ECDC, April 2019
Significant increase in measles cases and outbreaks in the USA
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that from 1 January to 4 April 2019, 465 individual cases of measles have been confirmed in 19 USA states.This is the second-greatest number of cases reported in the USA since measles was eliminated in the year 2000.
The states that have reported cases to CDC are Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Texas, and Washington.
These outbreaks are linked to travellers who have brought measles back from other countries such as Israel, Ukraine, and the Philippines where large measles outbreaks are occurring.
More information on the measles outbreak in the USA can be found on TRAVAX.
Source: CDC, 10 April 2019
London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone comes into force
The world’s first Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) came into force in London on Monday 8 April.
The ULEZ is central to London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s plans to improve the health of Londoners by reducing pollution, which has been linked to the early deaths of many people.
Most vehicles driving in the ULEZ will need to meet new, tighter emission standards or pay a daily charge to travel within the area. The ULEZ will operate in the same area as the current Congestion Charge Zone and will be in effect 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, all year round.
The ULEZ will help reduce emissions and it is hoped it will protect Londoners from lung damage, reduce the risk of breathing illnesses and heart disease in adults, and improve the health of people exposed to the highest levels of pollution.
More than 18,000 Londoners responded to the Mayor’s public consultation on ULEZ, with nearly 60 per cent (11,041) strongly supporting the principle of ULEZ.
The ULEZ is one of the many actions being taken to clean up London’s air. It follows action already taken to tackle the most polluting cars and improvements to London’s bus and taxi fleet including:
• ensuring all new double-decker buses are hybrid, hydrogen or electric from 2018.
• bringing in 12 low emission bus zones in some of London’s worst polluted ‘hotspots’ by the end of 2019.
• upgrading 5,000 older buses to be ultra low emission by October 2020.
The ULEZ is expected to contribute to improved air quality for people in London and reduce exhaust Nitrogen Oxide emissions by up to 45%.
Source: UK Health Alliance on Climate Change, 8 April 2019
DEFRA publishes UK annual carbon dioxide emissions
The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has published its annual update on the impact that UK consumption has on carbon dioxide emissions.
The worldwide production of goods consumed in the UK is taken into account, as well as goods produced in the UK and emissions directly generated by UK households.
Source: DEFRA, 11 April 2019
Food Standards Scotland launches new food allergy alert service
Food allergies are becoming increasingly common and recent consumer research commissioned by Food Standards Scotland (FSS) shows that 15% of people surveyed either have a food allergy themselves or have someone in their household with a food allergy.
FSS has launched a new food allergy alert service, whereby people in Scotland who have a food allergy or intolerance can sign up for text or email alerts to receive information when there is an issue with missing or incorrect allergen information on food labels.
People can subscribe to the free service at the FSS website. The service gives the option to receive specific alerts about issues involving any of the 14 ingredients which must be mentioned as allergens on food and drink packaging in the UK.
Information about the presence of the 14 allergens also needs to be available to consumers for food and drink products sold in restaurants, cafes, takeaways etc and loosely from deli counters, as well as premises selling food which has been packed on site such as boxed salads or packaged sandwiches.
The service is free and you can sign up for real time texts on your phone and/or a daily email.
Source: FSS, 8 April 2019
PHE releases new public health prevention tools
Public Health England (PHE) has launched a series of new e-learning tools to boost health and care professionals’ knowledge and skills in dealing with some of the biggest issues in public health.
The new interactive e-learning tools, developed by PHE and Health Education England e-Learning for Healthcare, offer bite-sized information on key public health issues to help professionals prevent illness, protect health and promote wellbeing.
E-learning tools are now available for cardiovascular disease prevention, adult obesity, antimicrobial resistance, physical activity, social prescribing, giving children the best start in life and supporting those at risk of, or experiencing, homelessness.
The tools explain why each topic is a public health priority, with practical advice on how different skills, techniques and approaches can help professionals across the health and social care sector to address the issues through their practice.
Each tool signposts to further information to help professionals embed prevention in their everyday practice, with short knowledge tests to help enhance learning.
Source: PHE, 8 April 2019
Environmental incidents – SEISS reports (industrial fire & wildfires)
The Scottish Environmental Incident Surveillance System (SEISS) recorded the following incidents in the past week:
• A major north-east road was closed on Saturday 13 April after a fire broke out at an industrial estate in Aberdeen. Thick black smoke could be seen for miles as fire fighters tackled the blaze on Skene Road that broke out at around 3pm.
Emergency services, including police officers and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service were in attendance and the A944 is was closed in both directions as a result. There were no reports of any injuries. STV News, 13 April 2019.
• Firefighters spent two days tackling a large forest fire in East Ayrshire. The emergency services were alerted to the blaze on a hillside at Loch Doon at about 18:50 on Saturday 13 April. At least five miles of hillside were affected and the public were asked to avoid the area.
East Ayrshire Council said that "progress" had been made and that a welfare centre was opened in the nearby town of Dalmellington. Fire crews worked in the area with support from Police Scotland and Forestry Commission Scotland and are continuing to monitor the site and manage hot spot areas.
The cause of the outbreak is still under investigation but the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) said recent dry weather has heightened the wildfire risk.
A number of other fires broke out over the weekend of 12-14 April, including one near Paul's Hill wind farm near Ballindalloch. BBC News, 15 April 2019.
More detailed information can be found on SEISS or contact either Ian Henton or Colin Ramsay at HPS on 0141 300 1100.