Over the last ten years, 19 new genetic mechanisms of antibiotic resistance within bacteria have been identified, which are the cause of many infections within the United Kingdom. Public Health England (PHE) have therefore released a 5-year infectious disease strategy that addresses current and future threats to public health, such as antibiotic resistance, declining vaccination rates, pandemic flu, emerging diseases and health inequalities.
Bacteria can acquire new mechanisms of antibiotic resistance through the transfer of DNA from other bacteria, which provides instructions that help bacteria avoid the effects of antibiotics. Alternatively, bacteria can acquire antibiotic resistance due to mutations in their existing DNA. Due to these genetic changes within bacteria, resistance to ‘last resort’ antibiotics such as carbapenems and colistin has risen, adding to the emerging infections that threaten the UK. PHE have reported a rise in newly recognised diseases that occur within a specific place or population. In the past decade, a total of 12 diseases and infections were detected in England for the first time, including:
- Swine flu
- Middle East respiratory syndrome
- Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever
About the Infectious Disease Strategy
The PHE strategy outlines the work to be carried out to combat infectious diseases and sets strategic priorities for the five-year period between 2020 to 2025. PHE have implemented the new strategy to strengthen their ability to prevent, detect and reduce the impact of infectious diseases. PHE are working with the NHS and local authorities to integrate innovative diagnostic technology and surveillance systems that will allow them to implement unrivalled infection prevention and control capabilities. As part of the long-term plan, the NHS will reduce the use of antibiotics by a further 15% to ensure effectivity is maintained as much as possible.
The new infectious disease strategy will build on existing work to:
- Provide a framework to identify rare, novel and dangerous pathogens.
- Respond to new agents and threats through the development of diagnostic and microbiological surveillance tools.
- Utilise technologies that provide rapid and robust analytical information to inform public health interventions in the event of an emergency.
The strategy was developed on core functions that enable the delivery of ten strategic priorities, which can be found on the Government website.
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