Country Correspondents: Partha Das and Roosa Tikkanen
In November, the U.K.’s Secretary of Health and Social Care Matt Hancock released a new plan for the National Health Service that focuses on prevention at the Annual Meeting of the International Association of National Public Health Institutes, held in London. The overarching goal is to improve life expectancy by at least five years over the next 15 years and to close the life expectancy gap between the richest and poorest Britons. The plan includes a number of other bold targets, including halving childhood obesity by 2030, diagnosing 75 percent of cancers at stages 1 or 2 by 2028, sequencing 5 million genomes in five years, and offering whole-genome sequencing to all children and adults with cancer or other serious illnesses in 2019. To support ongoing efforts to tackle social isolation, the government also aims to make social prescribing available in every locality by 2023. In addition, Hancock wants to increase specialist maternity mental health services and find ways to encourage employers to support employment of individuals living with disabilities.