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Emory and US CDC partner to continue building global public health network with $6 million grant

Emory University's Global Health Institute has received a three-year, $6 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to further develop a model for strengthening national public health institutes (NPHIs) globally. The grant will build upon a previous foundation grant to the International Association of National Public Health Institutes (IANPHI), which since 2006 has created or substantially increased capacity at NPHIs in 10 low-resource countries.

Under the new grant, IANPHI, through its Secretariat at the Emory Global Health Institute, will collaborate with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in three-year capacity building projects in four low-resource countries, to be named later this year.

In the process, IANPHI technical assistance methods and model for NPHI capacity building will be transferred to the CDC, with the intent that they be sustained over time as part of its future global health capacity building efforts. It is anticipated that other IANPHI members will use the jointly developed model, seeking out funding to undertake capacity building projects in partnership with IANPHI.

"We are grateful to the Gates Foundation for its strong commitment to IANPHI's project work through its international community of public health institutes, which since 2006 has used a peer-assistance model to strengthen national capacity to respond to health threats," says Dr. Jeffrey Koplan, vice president for global health at Emory, IANPHI president, and principal investigator for the new grant.

"We live in an increasingly interconnected society, and the public health issues of one country can quickly affect the entire world. It's important to think globally not only about public health problems, but also about developing and disseminating public health solutions. Because health risks are global, ineffective disease detection and response systems in one country can weaken the world."

IANPHI, based at the Emory Global Health Institute and Finland's National Institute of Public Health and Welfare, is an unparalleled network of the world's top public health leaders from 80 NPHIs. These CDC-like organizations lead national public health systems that can swiftly pinpoint and control disease outbreaks, rapidly identify pathogens and viruses through laboratory science, reduce deaths and disability due to smoking and other risk factors, and do research to inform national health policy.

IANPHI since 2006 has improved public health through some 50 projects in 35 countries with a focus on long-term projects to strengthen NPHIs in low-resource countries or create new ones. IANPHI-funded NPHI development projects have leveraged more than $50 million in technical assistance, financial support, equipment, and in-kind services from other countries, organizations, and donors.

"With this grant, CDC will partner with IANPHI to develop new NPHIs and strengthen existing ones and will work toward making this role a sustainable aspect of its global health efforts," Koplan says. "Catalyzing NPHI-to-NPHI technical assistance is a key component of IANPHI's success, including partnerships between IANPHI members from Brazil and Mozambique, France and Togo, and Nigeria and Uganda. We anticipate further such partnerships as IANPHI members' commitment to, and engagement in, the program continues to grow."

"CDC has had a longstanding and successful collaboration with Emory University in a broad range of global public health efforts," says Dr. Peter Bloland, director of the Division of Public Health Systems and Workforce Development, Center for Global Health. "The grant from the Gates Foundation to IANPHI through the Emory Global Health Institute provides an exciting new platform for CDC and IANPHI to work collaboratively on building essential public health capacity in low-income countries.

"CDC's more than 60 years as the United States' national public health institute uniquely qualifies us to support other NPHIs. This collaboration complements CDC's other capacity development programs, such as the Field Epidemiology Training Program and the Sustainable Management Development Program. We look forward to having even greater success with helping resource-poor countries increasingly address their own public health priorities."

Dr. Koplan, who is a former director of the U.S. CDC, says that concerns about the aftermath of natural disasters and conflicts, infectious diseases, tobacco use and obesity, pollution and food-borne toxins, injuries and other health-related losses that compromise national security and productivity are pushing countries to establish or strengthen NPHIs.

NPHIs provide science-based leadership and public health services and are on the front lines of public health challenges including food safety, H1N1 influenza, tuberculosis, polio, malaria, cholera, rabies, AIDS, and a host of other infectious or non-communicable diseases and conditions.

Coordinating core public health functions through an NPHI can result in more efficient use of resources and improved delivery of public health services. NPHIs are particularly beneficial in low-resource countries where they reduce brain drain by attracting and keeping qualified people, and stemming the tide of experts leaving government service for higher paying jobs.

This is the second grant to IANPHI from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which has supported IANPHI's vision of improving health outcomes since the organization's inception. In 2006, the foundation granted IANPHI close to $20 million to improve health outcomes, particularly in low-resource countries, by strengthening or creating national public health institutes.

Since then, IANPHI membership has more than doubled to more than 80 institutes from 74 countries, benefiting more than 79 percent of the world's population. IANPHI members include Brazil's Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (FIOCRUZ), the Netherland's National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), Japan's National Institute for Public Health, the China CDC, and India's National Centre for Disease Control.

This community of public health leaders has led to numerous scientific and other partnerships, including technical exchanges during the H1N1 outbreak and earthquake disasters. Besides awarding numerous seed grants for research and short-term technical assistance, IANPHI also has funded expansive long-term projects to strengthen NPHIs or create new ones. These efforts include rebuilding the war-torn public health system in Guinea-Bissau, creating new NPHIs in Mozambique and Ghana, and creating new national capacity for noncommunicable disease research and prevention in Tanzania.


Contact: Holly Korschun
Emory University

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