Global Health Preparedness program
Since autumn 2013, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH) has made efforts to put global health preparedness on the agenda in Norway and internationally. The current Ebola epidemic in West Africa has shown us how important it is to view health and security as one issue and to respond quickly to global health challenges.
Road sign in Accra, Ghana. Photo: Elin Wyller
Together with 43 other countries, Norway is a partner in the Global Health Security Agenda, an initiative to strengthen international efforts in prevention, detection and response to events that threaten public health worldwide. The Global Health Preparedness program at the NIPH is the main Norwegian contribution to this US-led initiative and is led by Dr Frode Forland from the Department of International Public Health.
The NIPH was pledged a grant from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to support six collaborating countries over a five-year period. The program has generated great international interest and the NIPH has been invited to several international expert meetings to present the program’s vision and activities by the WHO, the International Association of National Public Health Institutes (IANPHI), as well as individual countries. This has created much enthusiasm and several authorities and institutions have encouraged Norway to use its voice globally to emphasise the importance of a united global effort for health security and preparedness.
The purpose of the Global Health Preparedness program is to support the implementation of the International Health Regulations (IHR, 2005) in low-and-middle-income countries to strengthen general preparedness in their health systems. If more countries can rapidly detect and respond to disease outbreaks, crises and catastrophes that threaten public health, this will help to reduce inequalities in health care access and to improve public health in every single country. It will also significantly promote health security across country borders. The program will also strengthen the establishment of public health institutes or equivalent national functions in the various countries.
So far, NIPH employees, mostly from the Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, have been engaged in Palestine, Malawi and Moldova where Norway/NIPH has signed Memorandums of Understanding. In addition, NIPH has recently conducted a country visit to Ghana.
Since the NIPH already has had three-year collaboration with Palestine to establish the Palestinian National Public Health Institute, it was natural to integrate Palestine into the Global Health Preparedness program. Assessments of the IHR implementation status have been conducted in Palestine and Malawi. Moldova needs support for trials and testing of the IHR in connection to national multi-sectorial co-ordination, local response capacity, surveillance and capacity at points of entry.
Together with our partner countries, the NIPH will analyse the data from the IHR assessments and set up a plan to strengthen the implementation of IHR in Malawi, Palestine and Moldova during autumn 2015. Our collaborating partners in each country are WHO, CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, USA), IANPHI and the national health authorities. The NIPH seeks to continue the efforts in the program beyond the stipulated five years, because we know that it takes a long time to build sustainable health systems in fragile countries. Health, security and human rights are inextricably linked to the development in other sectors of society.
|Ghana Health Service, Accra||Salima District Hospital, Malawi|
|College of Medicine, University of Malawi, Lilongwe||National Public Health Centre, Chisinau, Moldova|
|Hînchesti District Public Health Center, Moldova||Hînchesti District Public Health Centre, Moldova|