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What is Health Protection?

Health Protection is one of the core fields of public health work. It is concerned with protecting individuals, groups and populations, through expert advice and effective collaboration to prevent and mitigate the impact of environmental hazards arising from infectious disease and chemical and radiological threats.

The Health and Social Care Act 2012 requires Directors of Public Health to prepare for and lead the local authority public health response to incidents that present a threat to the public’s health.

The Health Protection Hub fulfils this role on behalf of the Director of Public Health, working closely with UKHSA and other local partner organisations.

Over the past century there have been significant reductions in the number of deaths from traditional infectious diseases. These accounted for 32% of all deaths in 1901 compared with just 8% in 2015. As we have seen recently though with the COVID-19 pandemic, new threats from infectious diseases arise from changing socio-demographics including increased travel, immunosuppression and new types of viruses or bacteria.

Infectious diseases are a significant economic burden in the UK, accounting for annual costs of £30bn in 2017, pre-pandemic. As we have seen from the COVID-19 pandemic, the emergence of new infectious diseases has the potential for significant impact on our health, our economy and the way we live our lives.

In terms of environmental hazards, hot and cold weather events for example are associated with increases in deaths and ill-health. During the winter of 2015-16 there were an estimated 24,300 excess deaths in winter. We provide advice and support to those that may be vulnerable to extreme weather events.

Long-term exposure to particulate air pollution in the population increases the death rate, principally from cardiovascular and respiratory causes. In England, it is estimated to have an effect on mortality equivalent to 25,000 deaths every year. To help reduce traffic-related pollution we are working with partners and business to promote active commuting, which also has benefits in terms of climate change and the cost of living.

We also provide advice on the health impacts of new developments and provide public health advice in relation to licensing applications.

Useful websites

Our services include

  • infectious disease
  • food poisoning
  • travelling overseas
  • health and extreme weather
  • resources for businesses
  • resources for educational and childcare settings
  • resources for social care settings and providers.

Last updated: 04/10/2022 07:08

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