The importance of two MMR doses
New data published today tells us that in the first quarter of 2019 there were 231 confirmed cases of measles and 795 confirmed cases of mumps in England. For measles this figure is slightly lower compared to the same quarter last year, whereas for mumps there has been a significant increase. While the risk of these infections to the public generally remains low, this is a reminder that vaccination is the most effective way to protect individuals and each other. The increase in measles cases is mainly associated with overseas travel to countries with large outbreaks of measles and subsequent spread into under-vaccinated communities. The increase in mumps cases is largely due to outbreaks in universities.
Uptake of the first dose of the MMR vaccine in 2017-18 remains high at 94.9% among 5 year olds, very close to the World Health Organization 95% target, but this drops to 87.4% for the second dose. Two doses of MMR in each child are necessary to protect the population against measles, mumps and rubella and to prevent outbreaks from spreading. The first dose gives 90-95% protection which is obviously the most important, and the second dose helps to complete the protection. PHE is calling on parents to get their children vaccinated with both doses and for anyone who has not yet had the MMR vaccine, to get it now. We have also published a blog with the Royal College of General Practitioners on ways to increase uptake in primary care which is well worth a read.
Sharing a legacy
The Well North programme was set up in 2015 to create opportunities for local people in ten of the most deprived communities in the North of England. The programme, a partnership with local government, harnessed the things that matter to people and that have the biggest impact on their health and wellbeing: a job, a decent income, a home and friendship. By supporting local entrepreneurs, breaking down traditional boundaries and tackling social isolation, the local teams are seeing real change happening in very practical ways. The legacy vehicle for the programme is Well North Enterprises which focuses on developing an entrepreneurial, business-focused approach. The Well North legacy report has now been published and explains how this is being taken forward as a new social enterprise.
Health professionals leading by example on physical activity
On Saturday 1 June, Parkrun and the Royal College of General Practitioners are hosting the national GP parkrun Pledge Day, with primary care staff from across around 800 ‘parkrun practices‘ participating in their local parkrun. There are 620 parkruns across the country each Saturday and these volunteer-led 5k events see around 150,000 people of all ages and fitness levels walk, run or volunteer. Having GPs lead the way in helping others to get more active through initiatives like this is a fun and social way for people to get moving and the benefits are far-reaching.
Disaster risk reduction on a global scale
Professor Virginia Murray, in Geneva last week, presented at the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction on the new WHO Health Emergency and Disaster Risk Management Framework, which we have co-developed alongside international partners. The framework aims to guide Ministries of Health on their role in collecting and reporting data on disasters, heatwaves and other hazards. The event also saw the launch of a new technical review of hazard terminology and classification, which will be led by PHE. You can learn more here.
Policing and the public’s health
The police calculate that the majority of calls they receive are social in nature, rooted in causes such as adverse childhood experiences, poverty, social exclusion and addiction. PHE, together with the College of Policing have produced a resource that aims to support police and their partners in understanding and implementing public health approaches, the crux of which is that prevention is better than cure. The paper highlights population approaches; prevention; understanding the causes of the causes; use of data and evidence; and working in partnership. You can learn more here.
Reducing smoking in Hertfordshire
Local government continues to innovate and you may have seen reports this week about plans in Hertfordshire to work with local food banks to help smokers switch to e-cigarettes. Switching not only helps improve the health of smokers but that of their families by cutting out second-hand smoke and saving money. You can learn more here.
Senior Staff changes
There are a number of moves within PHE to share. From this week, Professor Yvonne Doyle becomes our new Medical Director and Director of Health Protection with Professor Paul Cosford becoming Emeritus Medical Director, leading on global health and on NHS prevention. Michael Brodie, Finance and Commercial Director, has been appointed as Chief Executive of the NHS Business Services Authority, taking up post on 1 September. And finally, Michael Ekpe, Chief Digital Officer, will be leaving PHE at the end of June to begin a new assignment in the private sector. I wish to warmly thank each of them for their fabulous contributions and every success in their next adventures.
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Author: Duncan Selbie