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Global health preparedness – a road to better health in all countries

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The Global Health Preparedness program at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH) has aroused great international interest and the head of the program, Frode Forland, was recently invited to present the program during a side event at the World Health Assembly in Geneva.

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Foto: Elin H Wyller
Foto: Elin H Wyller
World Health Assembly, Geneva in May 2015. Photo: Elin H Wyller 

In his presentation Forland explained how Norway was invited by the USA in 2014 to participate in the initiative Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA). At that time, the NIPH was already developing a similar program, Global Health Preparedness, but on a smaller scale.

As part of the GHSA, the NIPH is leading one of the cross-cutting work packages that is supporting the implementation of the International Health Regulations (IHR, 2005) within Norway. In addition, NIPH is contributing to the work packages about antimicrobial resistance and surveillance.

Develop sustainable health systems

In his presentation, Forland explained how animal and human health are inextricably intertwined and that 75 per cent of new and emerging diseases are infectious diseases of animal origin. The IHR are a good foundation tool to ensure health security in all countries, giving accessible and affordable health services to everyone. Article 44 of the IHR (2005) encourages high-income countries to collaborate with low-income countries to achieve full implementation of the IHR. Full implementation means that each country has the capacity to detect and identify disease outbreaks and events that threaten public health and to respond timely with adequate preparedness competency. This implies developing sustainable health systems that can prepare each country and the world as a whole not only for everyday challenges but also for crises.

“Through the NIPH, Norway is co-operating closely with WHO in planning the content of the Global Health Preparedness program. This program is a twinning model for collaboration amongst public health institutes in low- and middle-income countries. The NIPH favours long-term collaborations with the countries we choose in the program and would like to continue beyond the stipulated five years. NIPH collaborates with many international partners beside the WHO, for example CDC (US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), Public Health England (PHE), IANPHI (International Association of National Public Health Institutes) and our Nordic sister institutions. By collaborating globally we will have the capacity to accomplish far more in health security than each of us alone,” concluded Forland.