The International Association of National Public Health Institutes (IANPHI) has awarded its second annual series of technical assistance grants to strengthen national public health capacity and infrastructure.
Formally launched in 2006 and housed in joint Secretariats at Emory University and Finland's National Institute of Public Health-KTL, today IANPHI links more than 50 national public health institutes (NPHIs) worldwide--including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (US CDC), the China CDC, the Netherlands' National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, and Mexico's Institute Nacional de Salud Pública--with a goal of strengthening national, regional and international public health infrastructure and advocacy.
National public health institutes are science-based organizations that provide national leadership and expertise for a country's efforts to protect and improve health. NPHIs are responsible for core public health functions such as monitoring disease, combating outbreaks, and conducting the research and laboratory science that underpin disease investigations.
IANPHI's unique grant programs give countries funds to strengthen their ability to undertake these essential public health functions through NPHIs. IANPHI funds are awarded for strategic planning and organizational development, technical assistance, training and infrastructure development. IANPHI's programs lead to strengthened national public health infrastructure, particularly in low-resource countries.
Jeffrey Koplan, MD, MPH, vice president for global health and director of Emory's Global Health Institute, is the IANPHI president. Dr. Koplan is a former director of the U.S. CDC.
"IANPHI's programs are unique in this era of vertical, disease-specific donor assistance," says Dr. Koplan. "Giving governments the resources needed to develop their own organizational missions and capacity will have long-lasting effects on our ability to diagnose and treat public health problems in the decades to come. Our peer-assistance model, which allows for shared expertise among members, is a distinctive global resource for strengthening national public health capacity and diminishing collective vulnerabilities around the world."
The awards are the result of a $20 million, five-year grant in 2006 from The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to Emory University for the support of IANPHI. Nearly 20 projects initiated in low-resource countries are helping to build and enhance capacity and infrastructure in national public health institutes.
The new awards include short-term technical assistance grants to governments in Turkey, Thailand, Mozambique, Bolivia and Ethiopia.
Turkey's Refik Saydam National Hygiene Center is at the forefront of efforts to prevent and control threats from infectious disease agents. Using IANPHI funding, three technicians from the Center's laboratory in Turkey will visit Emory University and receive BSL-3 training, and then will return to Turkey to assume responsibility for the institute's biosafety activities.
Thailand's National Institute of Health will use IANPHI funds to establish a national Consortium of National Public Health Organizations to facilitate timely, coordinated and science-based management of public health challenges and emergencies.
"Like other countries, Thailand is grappling with emerging infectious disease outbreaks, toxicologic and environmental safety problems and natural disasters of increasing frequency and severity," says Dr. Pathom Sawanpanyalert, the Institute's director and a member of IANPHI's Executive Board. "Addressing these challenges requires appropriate and effective collaboration and coordination among medical, disease prevention and laboratory functions and services."
IANPHI teams will also conduct site visits to Mozambique and Bolivia to assess public health infrastructure and provide recommendations on developing more fully integrated public health services through NPHIs. In Ethiopia, IANPHI will assist in creating a five-year strategic plan to develop an NPHI by restructuring the Ethiopian Health and Nutrition Research Institute.
Medium-term capacity-building grants to Macedonia, Serbia, Thailand and Argentina will provide support for up to three years.
A grant to the National Public Health Institute in Macedonia will help with development of a public health reform strategy including organizational revision, new financial mechanisms, new legislative authority for public health, improved governance and human resource development. The project will support Macedonia's integration into the global public health network and help reverse deteriorating trends in public health infrastructure.
In Serbia, the adverse impact of alcohol on population health is more severe than from all illegal drugs combined. A major goal of the Institute of Public Health of Serbia is to develop capacity for monitoring and prevention of alcohol-related diseases and injuries. The institute will use IANPHI funds to develop and implement a training program for primary health-care providers in diagnosing alcoholism.
The National Institute of Health in Thailand is the country's central public health reference laboratory, playing a key role in prevention and control of infectious diseases. The institute also serves Thailand's regional medical centers and public health institutions in limited-resource neighboring countries. To address emerging health threats and cross-border spread of disease, NIH will use IANPHI funds to strengthen the capacity of national public health laboratories in Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar and to enhance its own capacity to become a regional reference laboratory and coordinating center.
Argentina's Administración Nacional de Laboratorios e Institutos de Salud (ANLIS) aims to strengthen its country's public health laboratories to enhance response capacity.
In 2007, IANPHI funded eleven short- and medium-term projects, including those in Nigeria, Uganda and Central America. IANPHI also is continuing two long-term projects to create national public health institutes in Guinea-Bissau and Malawi.