Local authority leaders have backed a call for continued cooperation with the European Union in order to tackle infectious diseases after Brexit.
The Brexit Health Alliance, which brings together the NHS, medical research, industry, patients and public health bodies, has said public health may not rate high on the agenda during the Brexit negotiations.
It warned the opportunity to maintain robust co-operation ‘may be lost’.
‘Infectious diseases do not respect borders and we need to tackle them together,’ said Niall Dickson, co-chair of the Brexit Health Alliance.
‘It should be blindingly obvious to all concerned that that it is in all our interests to maintain these vital links.
‘We need strong co-ordination in dealing with cross-border health threats and alignment with EU standards for food, safety of medicines, transplant organs and the environment.
‘The negotiators have much on their minds but protecting the health of millions must be a priority.’
Responding to the Alliance’s call, Cllr Kevin Bentley, chairman of the Local Government Association’s (LGA) Brexit Taskforce, said: ‘The UK is a world leader in tackling serious cross-border threats to health and has a well-developed health protection system highly regarded by European partners.
‘After formal exit from the Union, it is vital that the UK and EU maintain a high level of cooperation in these areas to ensure all countries continue to be able to effectively address health inequalities, tackle chronic diseases and protect against serious health threats.
‘It is in our collective interest to continue to collaborate closely, and to maintain access to our intelligence, risk assessment, guidance and advice.’