Letter from the President

At the time of writing this message, we have only recently heard the terrifying news from Nepal. A serious natural disaster has affected the lives of thousands of people. The death toll is high, and many are reported missing. Professionals from local and international organizations are working hard to help in this dire situation the Nepalese now face. The World Health Organization, a partner of IANPHI, is also present in Nepal, providing the country with additional medical supplies and health workers in the earthquake-affected region.

Although some regions are prone to natural disasters, their arrival is nonetheless often surprising, leaving locations ill prepared to cope. Even countries with strong technical infrastructure may become incapacitated for quite some time when nature’s forces come to play. Well-constructed emergency preparedness plans help national bodies tackle the acute situation faster and with more efficiency. National public health institutes play a key role not only in the immediate response to crisis, but also in preventing infectious disease, malnutrition and further injuries from adding to the tragedy. A systematically secured process of rapid and long-term emergency response is fundamental to protecting the lives of the people in the affected area as well as those of the health workers and helpers. IANPHI helps NPHIs meet their nation’s needs in this area. Our thoughts are with our Nepalese friends and colleagues, and of all the people in the affected areas.

IANPHI advocates for professional and competent national public health institutes in every country around the world. Even though NPHIs’ capacities vary, they all aim at providing strong institutional support for improving the health of the population. Thus our network makes substantial contributions to global health. Through a peer network, it is also easier for the NPHI directors to seek help and assistance from their colleagues in other countries, whether it is for an acute situation or for a more long-term capacity building effort.

Earlier this year, we had the meeting of IANPHI’s European network in Prague, to discuss how the European NPHIs could better work together. Also, we invited representatives from the European Commission and WHO-EURO to our meeting and asked them how IANPHI could best help these organizations in their work. IANPHI’s members’ views, experience and guidance, and their central national role are well recognized, and seen as an asset to our partners.

We will continue the fruitful exchange of ideas to make plans for deepening our collaboration, and hope to present some refined ideas at the 2015 IANPHI Annual Meeting in Paris. The planning for our global IANPHI meeting this year on 13-15 October is well underway. We shall discuss a number of important current public health topics as well as our cooperation. In addition, we will also hold our annual IANPHI business meeting while in Paris. I warmly welcome all IANPHI members to the event!

Looking forward to seeing you in Paris,

Pekka Puska 

IANPHI President

Former Director General,

National Institute for Health and Welfare, Finland