I am writing this week from Sierra Leone where we have marked the handover to the Ministry of Health and Sanitation of the three PHE laboratories in Freetown, Bo and Makeni, all refurbished by PHE to UK standards and funded by UK Aid. Our presence in Sierra Leone was most obvious at the height of the Ebola epidemic, but we forged a longer term partnership to transfer molecular technology and diagnostic expertise to the regional hospital system, with a fully trained cohort of local technicians now in place to run the labs. In addition, we have been assisting with their emergency training programme as part of the wider cross-government response system.
With the enthusiasm and expertise of colleagues in just about every directorate across PHE contributing to the work of our team in Sierra Leone, we can now say that we have achieved these objectives. It has been quite a journey and you might read a blog on this from our North of England regional director Professor Paul Johnstone, who leads for PHE on Sierra Leone, published yesterday. Our new objective now is to ensure what has been put in place can be sustained and to assist the Sierra Leone Government in implementing the International Health Regulations and providing coaching and mentorship for the laboratory staff as they extend their diagnostic expertise.
Rare diseases cause around a third of infant deaths and are a major contributor to subsequent illness and disability. Launched in April 2015, PHE's National Congenital Anomaly and Rare Disease Registration Service (NCARDRS) collects data on rare diseases to improve surveillance and patient care, inform healthcare planning and support research. Through this new service, clinicians treating rare diseases will have access to data, as with our cancer registry, that has the potential to improve treatment and outcomes for people with rare diseases and ensure patients and their families are involved in decisions about their care. This month, for the first time, every Hospital in England received a report with an analysis of their data and national benchmarks. This is public health surveillance at its best and a world class resource.
On Tuesday PHE hosted Making It Happen, a stakeholder event for the drug treatment sector to discuss two significant new publications: the 2017 Drug Strategy and the Drug Misuse and Dependence UK Clinical Guidelines – known across the field as the Orange Book. Home Office Minister, Sarah Newton MP, responsible for the drug strategy and leading addictions academic Professor Sir John Strang gave keynote speeches. The event gave LA commissioners and providers the opportunity to consider local implementation of the Strategy and Guidelines.
The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 is one of the three 2015 landmark agreements of the United Nations (UN) and endorsed by the UN General Assembly. Recently a report was published which reviews PHE’s contribution to the implementation of the framework, setting out the work programme at national and international level across the world in preparing for and responding to disasters. The PHE report, through Professor Virginia Murray, who has been the vice chair of the UNISDR Scientific and Technical Advisory Group and her team, shows the work of PHE in supporting the UK in implementing the Sendai Framework including its obligations under the International Health Regulations. You can read the report here.
And finally, PHE has been recently nominated for the ‘Business in the Community Best Employers for Race Award 2017’. The award is judged on creating inclusive workplace cultures and taking action in at least one of three areas - leadership, progression and recruitment. I am delighted to see PHE recognised for the work we are doing to ensure our workforce is truly diverse and inclusive. It is our differences that make us unique and PHE a place where everyone should feel comfortable and able to do their best work.
Friday messages from 2012-2016 are available on GOV.UK