News Release: Research, School of Public Health

May 4,  2009

IANPHI Approves More Than $400,000 to Boost National Public Health Systems Around the World

The International Association of National Public Health Institutes (IANPHI) —based jointly at Emory University and Finland's National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL)— has approved eight grants totaling $419,000 to strengthen national public health systems in low-resource countries.

National public health institutes (NPHIs) are science–based organizations that provide national leadership for public health and coordinate core public health functions, including disease monitoring and surveillance, health promotion and education, laboratory science and outbreak investigation and control.

Based in Atlanta, Ga., USA, and Helsinki, Finland, IANPHI links 63 NPHIs worldwide – including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (U.S. CDC) and the China CDC.  IANPHI is an international advocacy and professional organization for NPHI directors as well as a major investor in public health infrastructure projects in low-resource countries.  It is funded through Emory University by a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The new grants, approved during an executive board meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, will address a range of pressing national health concerns at IANPHI member institutes, from typhoid fever in Bangladesh to rabies in Peru.

"IANPHI programs are unique in this era of disease-specific donor assistance,” says Jeffrey Koplan, MD, MPH, president of IANPHI, head of Emory's Global Health Institute and former director of the US CDC. "Giving governments the resources needed to develop their own organizational missions and capacity will have long-lasting effects on their ability to identify and address public health problems in the decades to come.”

The new awards include six, two-year seed grants to fund research in NPHIs in Mexico, Mozambique, Nigeria, Peru, Tanzania and Bangladesh.  While each grant addresses different public health concerns, all will focus on strengthening core public health system functions.

• In Bangladesh, typhoid fever is endemic. IANPHI will provide funds to the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control, and Research (IEDCR) to better understand typhoid fever and establish a hospital-based surveillance system. The project's long-term goal is to strengthen the capacity of IEDCR in data collection, management and laboratory investigation to allow institute staff to respond more quickly and effectively and reduce lives lost to disease.

• Mexico's National Institute of Public Health, currently working to improve prenatal care throughout the country, will use its IANPHI seed grant to study hospital compliance of the Baby Friendly Initiative, a global standard of care for pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers. Funds will also go towards a study of postpartum depression and its developmental effects on children at 18 months. The research is expected to lead to the implementation of new policies and programs to address important factors contributing to childhood illness and mortality.

• The National Institute for Medical Research in Tanzania will use its IANPHI funds to conduct a community survey of non-communicable diseases in the Morogoro region. Researchers involved in the project will query respondents on risk behaviors, social determinants and public exposure.  Results will inform new government policies on non-communicable disease prevention programs.

• Peru's National Public Institute of Health will use its grant money for clinical, molecular epidemiology and spatial analysis of 171 cases of drug-resistant tuberculosis. This research is expected to lead to a better understanding of the spread of this deadly type of tuberculosis and will inform future government policies on TB prevention and control.

• The Nigeria Institute of Medical Research will establish a nationwide quality assurance program for laboratory research related to the study of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. The adoption of uniform quality control measures is expected to improve communication between labs and strengthen research performance throughout the country, leading to more accurate case identification and treatment.

• In Mozambique, the National Health Institute will create a system to survey how community-acquired acute bacterial meningitis is spread in the capitol city of Maputo. Additional objectives include the assessment of current laboratory capacities and the creation of a referral system for cerebrospinal fluid samples to improve the quality, accuracy and timeliness of sample testing, resulting in faster treatment of patients and lives saved.

In addition to funding the six seed grants, the IANPHI Executive Board approved grants ranging from $9,000 to $25,000 for short-term proposals submitted by Peru, Costa Rica and Morocco:

• Peru's National Institute of Health will strengthen anti-rabies programs and train two NIH researchers in rabies vaccine methodology, potency testing and quality control procedures to improve treatment and save lives.

• Costa Rica is taking steps to transform the National Institute for Research and Teaching in Nutrition and Health into a new national public health entity with greater technical capacity. IANPHI funds will help develop a strategic plan for the new NPHI and create an institutional mechanism within the new entity to improve quality control of medications, food safety, water quality monitoring, and non-communicable disease surveillance. Technical assistance for the project will be provided by Fiocruz of Brazil, an IANPHI member institute.

• Morocco's National Institute of Hygiene will use its funds to continue progress on plans to strengthen public health infrastructure in the country and build its technical capability to respond to disease threats in Morocco.

Since its formal launch in 2006, IANPHI has nearly doubled its global membership and helped fund dozens of public health projects throughout the world, assisting with strategic planning, organizational development, technical assistance, training and infrastructure development.

Projects have ranged from helping Ethiopia respond more quickly to public health emergencies, to supporting Tanzania's efforts to address its growing chronic disease threat, to working with the United Kingdom's Health Protection Agency to create a public health readiness toolkit for hosts of international sporting events such as the 2012 Olympics Games in London. IANPHI also recently launched a mentorship program linking experienced public health leaders with scientists and policy makers from IANPHI's member institutes who show promise to become future public health leaders.


The Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center of Emory University is an academic health science and service center focused on missions of teaching, research, health care and public service. Its components include schools of medicine, nursing, and public health; Yerkes National Primate Research Center; the Emory Winship Cancer Institute; and Emory Healthcare, the largest, most comprehensive health system in Georgia. The Woodruff Health Sciences Center has a $2.3 billion budget, 17,000 employees, 2,300 full-time and 1,900 affiliated faculty, 4,300 students and trainees, and a $4.9 billion economic impact on metro Atlanta.

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