Public Health England (PHE) has launched a new five-year infectious disease strategy, addressing current and future threats to health, with antibiotic resistance identified as a key threat.
PHE said that new mechanisms of antibiotic resistance are adding to the emerging infections threatening the country’s health, with the majority of the genetic changes in bacteria causing resistance to last-line antibiotics such as carbapenems and colistin.
Over the last decade, PHE said, the national reference laboratory has identified 19 novel genetic mechanisms of bacterial resistance from patient clinical samples in the UK. In the last 5 years, a total of 32 bacteria were identified as resistant to all antibiotics (pan-drug-resistant) tested at the reference laboratory.
The new strategy seeks to strengthen PHE’s ability to prevent, detect, respond to, and reduce the impact of infectious diseases. Working with partners across public health, including NHS and local authorities, PHE will integrate innovative new diagnostic technologies and world-class surveillance systems, to implement unrivalled infection prevention and control capabilities within the changing world.
Prof Chris Whitty, Chief Scientific Adviser for the Department of Health and Social Care and incoming Chief Medical Officer, said: “Despite our arsenal of vaccines and antimicrobials, infectious disease remains a real threat to public health. We are constantly faced with new threats, and antimicrobial resistance is growing. We have the ability to keep disease at bay but we must continuously update our response and expertise. This new strategy will enable us to detect and prevent new threats as they arise, keeping us safe from potentially devastating consequences.”
As part of the long-term plan, the NHS will reduce the use of antibiotics by a further 15% to keep them as effective as possible, and will embrace new technologies to try to improve preventative health and earlier intervention.