Wednesday 09 August 2023
The Medical Officer of Health/Director of Public Health has released their Medical Officer of Health Report today.
This, the 116th Medical Officer of Health Report highlights a number of issues but also recognises Public Health's progress and achievements in recent years. As this report covers the period of 2019-2022 it includes a number of key issues that would have usually been addressed in singular reports had the Public Health Team not been extensively involved in the Bailiwick of Guernsey's COVID-19 pandemic response.
For the first time, the summary to this report is also presented in Guernsey French (Guernesiais or patois), thus respecting the Islands' heritage, whilst looking forward to the future.
Dr Nicola Brink, Medical Officer of Health & Director of Public Health said:
'The report provides an overview of Public Health Services, together with chapters on improvements in health and wellbeing in women and girls; a summary of the Public Health response to the COVID-19 pandemic, an analysis of mortality and cause of death in Guernsey and Alderney and reflections on the Medical Officer of Health report from 100 years ago.
Also included are a set of vital statistics. The aim is to incorporate the same core set of statistics in the annual report each year so that these are available to use in health and social care planning, program development and to track progress towards health goals.'
Areas explored in this report include:
Public health for women and girls: Improvements in public health for women and girls in Guernsey and Alderney include areas of significant progress, such as the success of the free under 21 contraception programme, modernisation of the abortion law and progress towards the elimination of cervical cancer. In this section we recap these changes and explain what they mean in real terms for women and girls in our community, but also highlight areas of inequalities such as physical activity undertaken by girls.
The COVID-19 pandemic response: The Public Health response to the COVID-19 pandemic describes the waves of the pandemic and the strategic approach taken in our isolated location. This is not a review of the management of COVID-19 but serves to describe the public health response to one of the most significant global events over the past 100 years.
Highlighted are areas that may be of particular interest to readers including a description of the pandemic waves that we experienced locally; the local public health response including our approach to modelling; developing on-island testing and contact tracing programmes; information mortality and case numbers; and how we blended locally and internationally derived evidence to inform our response.
Mortality trends: The Guernsey Mortality Trends Report, 2021 maps recent patterns of mortality and considers key causal factors and is published today alongside this report. Key messages from the Mortality report have been included as they provide us with information on the current health problems in Guernsey and Alderney. Examining trends tells us about the patterns of risk and causes of death in our community over time. In turn, this enables Public Health to use this evidence-base to focus preventative measures on where they will be most effective. The report highlights a few areas of this report and discusses what this data means for us.
100 years ago: The 20th to 24th Medical Officer of Health Reports were written by Dr Henry Draper Bishop, the Medical Officer of Health between 1918 and 1922 and were attached as an appendix to a letter in the Billet d'Etat from the President of the Board of Sanitation. This provides us with a fascinating insight into the health of the Bailiwick 100 years ago.
Dr Brink said:
'In the 116th MOH report I have compared the response to the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918/1919 (where there was an almost complete reliance on non-pharmaceutical interventions) to that of the COVID-19 Pandemic some 100 years later (where we used a blend of non-pharmaceutical interventions, laboratory testing and vaccination). In other areas of Public Health. It is also interesting to note some of the areas that have remained important over the last 100 years - these include the need for evidence and data to monitor plans and provide evidenced-informed healthcare and the importance of adequate housing to support health and wellbeing.'
The 116th MOH report does contain some recommendations, some of which will be fulfilled by Public Health and others will require an island-wide response. This is by no means an exhaustive list and readers may wish to use the information in this report to support their programmes of work.
Dr Brink said:
'This 116th Medical Officer of Health Report focuses on the achievements over the past few years, together with the challenges that Public Health will face over the years and decades to follow. To thrive as an island nation, we need to consider how we can deliver on health for all islanders, working across the Bailiwick and beyond embracing a Health for All approach. Investing in health is good for our economy and prioritising health will support our economy even further. We need to plan for our future, taking these considerations into account.'