In response to the announcement that Public Health England would be replaced by the National Institute for Health Protection, Action on Sugar and Action on Salt have laid out recommendations to ensure health promotion, obesity prevention, and reformulation programmes aren't left by the wayside.
The new National Institute for Health Protection will be responsible for carrying out infectious disease protection but it is not yet clear who, if anyone, will be responsibe for key functions that have been paramount for protecting overall health, and preventing the onset of nurition related chronic diseases in England.
Poor nutrition is one of the biggest causes of death and disability in the UK. Despite its lack of independence and accountability, PHE was the main body responsible for health promotion programmes, including health screening, obesity prevention and product reformulation.
In response to the announcement, Action on Sugar and Action on Salt have developed recommendations on the future of health prevention in the UK:
- PHE’s national nutrition functions should be retained alongside harms reduction and mental health
- PHE, minus functions being transferred to the National Institute for Health Protection, must remain in place until end of 2021
- Policy must be cross-department and cross-party
- Collaboratively establish purpose-driven values on prevention that all parties agree to
- Clearly assign roles to all departments to ensure values are achieved
- Set up an independent authority to oversee and measure progress, with:
- Funding ringfenced until at least 2030
- Freedom to speak to the evidence without influence
- Accountability to Parliament
You can find their full recommendations here.
Katharine Jenner, Campaign Director, Action on Sugar and Action on Salt:
"The UK has an opportunity to be world-leading again, with the potential of developing and implementing mandated national nutrition improvement measures like the soft drinks industry levy to replace the current voluntary programmes. Improving nutrition is good for individuals, good for the economy and, as we have seen with the sugar levy, can even be good for business. It’s therefore imperative that whoever is responsible for tackling the biggest cause of premature death and disability in the UK when Public Health England is dissolved, prevents disease and not just treats it."
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