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Medicine 2021: Aligning prevention and care – challenges and opportunities for the health of the public

On day 2 of the RCP’s Medicine 2021 conference, Dame Anne Johnson, professor of infectious disease epidemiology at University College London, gave a presentation covering the alignment of prevention and care.

Professor Dame Anne Johnson began by saying that the pandemic has highlighted the central importance of a robust clinical care system working alongside a robust public health system.

She said that public health and prevention have had a major impact on life expectancy over the past century. Taking cardiovascular disease as an example, she highlighted there has been an enormous decline in age-standardised mortality over the past 50 years. Around half of this is attributable to biomedical interventions with half down to other interventions such as lifestyle and environment changes. It is this ‘working together’ of public health and clinical intervention that is so important.

We face many health challenges with a growing and ageing population and more people with multiple health conditions. Dame Johnson said that prevention plays a major role in reducing illness, but many interventions lie outside the health service (eg environmental, fiscal, behavioural), and there are major social inequalities in exposures and outcomes.

She went on to explore what we mean by prevention and whose responsibility it is, and how to bring prevention and public health perspectives into clinical practice so that it is personalised with the right intervention at the right time.

Dame Johnson ended by asking how we will practise medicine in 2040 and said we must ensure prevention and population health are integrated and not isolated from the clinical method.

Inspired to find out more? Our annual conference is virtual this year and you can sign up to Medicine 2021 to watch the full presentation.

We’ve extended on-demand access to all conference content until the end of April 2021. You can gain up to 16 CPD points until 7 February 2021. Thereafter you will be able to self-accredit as independent learning.