By World Healthcare Journal-
In her final annual report, England’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Dame Sally Davies outlines the UK’s leading role in global health and the need to share international knowledge and experience.
The report details how the UK must not only focus on domestic healthcare as it would be creating unnecessary risk and danger to itself in doing so. Ebola, antimicrobial resistance, vaccination supply issues, and increased health inequality are already presenting significant challenges across the world that could have a potential damaging effect on the UK.
Accompanied by a collection of letters from key global leaders to the Chief Medical Officer, Professor Davies’ report makes a series of recommendations to ensure a prosperous health system and population, both at home and across the world.
“We should be proud of the UK’s global leadership in health, but the world is changing and we must respond," she says.
The report discusses global health within three interlinking themes: equity, sustainability, and security. With health threats becoming increasingly similar internationally, close, cooperative engagement with other countries is required, and in doing so, the NHS can more adaptable, efficient, and sustainable as can the entire health ecosystem.
Pandemics, genomics and vaccinations, Professor Davies states, are just some of the areas in which we can learn from the triumphs and mistakes of other nations.
Professor Davies is set to leave her post as CMO after 8 years of service and will become the first female Master of Trinity College Cambridge later this year.
“Investing in global health is the smart thing to do because it is in our mutual interest, it creates a better world for us and future generations. It helps to keep our population safe,” she says.
The involvement of the UK around the world
The UK’s role in contributing expertise and support around the globe to ensure infectious diseases are contained is essential. NHS workers were on the frontline of the 2014 Sierra Leone Ebola outbreak, working tirelessly to contain the disease, and the Public Health Rapid Support Team is now supporting efforts to halt the growing epidemic in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
But infectious diseases are only one part of the problem, the Chief Medical Officer argues. Education, poverty and pollution play a vital role in global health. Non-communicable diseases such as heart disease, strokes and cancer are rising at an alarming rate. They are already the leading cause of death globally and by 2021 will overtake all others as the leading causes of death in all low income countries.
“We should invest in systems and solutions that contribute to making health more equitable, secure and sustainable. What we learn abroad will improve our NHS and support our domestic efforts to make sure no one in the UK is left behind,” says Professor Davies.
Input from leaders around the world
Within the report, Professor Davies shares the input that she has received from global leaders – such as Ban Ki-Moon, Bill Gates, and Julia Gillard - providing their perspectives on the role of the UK and the NHS in the global health field.
“Eradication initiatives can help us to respond to new threats. The polio programme set up an Emergency Operations Centre in Nigeria with the goal of helping with eradication efforts. Neither the polio team nor the Nigerian government expected the centre’s resources would be used to fight a different kind of outbreak, but that’s exactly what happened during the 2014 West Africa Ebola outbreak when cases started appearing in the country. The Nigerian government used the centre to stop the disease in its tracks. The outbreak was confined to just 19 cases,” says Bill Gates in his letter.
The UK must share its expertise, research and systems if it is to respond to and control the rising threat of NCDs and learn from partners abroad. As a leader in health and science, the UK is ideally placed to collaborate on new research projects. The report makes the case for new ways of working towards a more sustainable future, ensuring it has the workforce, finance, innovations and technology to provide for future generations to come.
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