Interview: Dr. Jean Claude Desenclos on the new NPHI Evaluation Tool

October 20, 2014

Dr. Desenclos, Deputy Director of France's InVS, serves on the IANPHI France Secretariat. He served as a key contributor on IANPHI's newly developed Peer-to-Peer Evaluation Initiative for National Public Health Institutes

IANPHI: What is the historical precedent for the evaluation tool’s creation?

EvalJCD: This is the first generic evaluation tool of this nature that has been developed specifically for NPHIs. This tool encompasses the essence of what NPHIs are, and their diversity. It is also a natural follow-up of previous work initiated by IANPHI, particularly the definition of the Framework for the Creation and Development of National Public Health Institutes, produced in 2006 and revised in 2011. The development of the tool is also an attempt to build on previous experience of IANPHI in responding to requests to evaluate NPHIs (CDC China for example).

IANPHI: As a new resource for IANPHI, is there any aspect of the tool you would like to highlight?

JCD: This work reflects IANPHI’s maturity and capacity, after almost ten years of activity to promote and foster the development of NPHIs, to produce guidelines on strategic issues such as a peer-to-peer external evaluation. This tool capitalizes the experience of IANPHI's members in managing and developing their own national institute and also takes into account that, besides their diversity, NPHI shares the same noble challenge of improving public health based on scientific ground. Based on this, the hypothesis that we make is that an evaluation by peers following a standardized tool is the most able to deliver balanced and operational recommendations to the evaluated NPHI for improving it’s strategy towards better health based on scientific ground.

IANPHI: What use will it be to member institutes?

JCD: At a time when governmental resources are becoming scarce, National Public Health Institutes may face questions on their usefulness, performance, or efficiency from their own authority. Also, NPHI directors may wish to have a formal evaluation for developing his NPHI strategy ahead. This tool gives to NPHI director the opportunity to have in such contexts an evaluation based on an international team of public health senior experts that know about the job of running such an institute in another country. The IANPHI initiative in developing this NPHI framework aims at providing this service to NPHI that wishes to go through this process for improving the delivery of their services.

IANPHI: With regards to the diversity of the NPHIs and the IANPHI Framework, what value will the tool add?

JCD: As a neutral party, with regards to national stakes, and as an internationally recognized institution that gathers NPHIs around the world with this tool, IANPHI is a guarantee of a scientifically and public health based evaluation. It also offers a more pragmatic and appropriate approach than national financial or administrative audits that may be done by governmental services. It is not also an accreditation of the NPHI, although it may be used by the director of the NPHI in any accreditation process. The aim of an evaluation conducted by  IANPHI is to help the NPHIs to continue what the institute is doing best in serving public health and, through practical and realistic scientifically based advice to revise activities that are not core to the mission of the NPHI or may not be optimum in term of quality or performance.

A peer-to-peer evaluation that mobilizes a panel comprised of fellow NPHI directors or senior staff, such as proposed by IANPHI, is envisioned addressing terms of reference (evaluation date, purpose, scope, desired audience, focal areas, etc.) determined by the NPHI director seeking the evaluation would serve best the NPHI since the ultimate use of the evaluation  will be determined by the NPHI director.

IANPHI: Your message to the IANPHI membership?

JCD: If you feel that a peer-to-peer evaluation would be useful for the development of the missions and services of your institute, then do not hesitate to consult with IANPHI for such an evaluation!