Liberia's National Public Health Institute is 'Now a Legal Entity'

Dr. Fallah shares the significance of an NPHI in Liberia.

"The act establishing the National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL) has been signed into law by the president of Liberia, printed into hand bills and circulated to the public," said Jonathan Enders a team member at NPHIL in an email to the International Association of National Public Health Institutes (IANPHI). "NPHIL is now a legal entity in Liberia."

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf signed the Bill establishing NPHIL as the official national public health institute (NPHI) in Liberia in January 2017. President Sirleaf, who witnessed the devastation of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) devastation first hand, said that "despite improvements, deficiencies of the health system were exposed when the disease hit us. This became a wake-up call to the urgent need to build preventive systems for infection." 

Liberia’s unprecedented Ebola outbreak claimed the lives of more than 11,000 people and infected more than 28,000. With the aftermath of Ebola highlighting the need for an Institute, NPHIL will coordinate and strengthen disease detection, outbreak investigation, develop and build the public health workforce and other public health functions. Its mission is to prevent and control health threats while its vision to create a center of excellence for better health outcomes. 

The National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL) will address the huge public health deficits demonstrated by the Ebola epidemic.

Dr. Mosoka Fallah, Founding Director of the National Public Health Institute of Liberia

In early December 2016 the Bill to establish NPHIL passed through the Liberian legislature, a critical milestone on its post-Ebola journey. However, NPHIL began to take shape in 2015 when the Ministry of Health’s Disease Prevention and Control Division held a stakeholders’ meeting in Monrovia. With support from the World Health Organization (WHO), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (US CDC), the African Field Epidemiology Training Network and International Association of National Public Health Institutes IANPHI, seven strategic areas the Institute will address were developed including disease surveillance and response and improve epidemic preparedness. Following numerous stakeholder inputs, in Monrovia February 2016, a one-year operational plan was finalized and used as the basis to develop legislation that will create NPHIL. IANPHI, provided technical assistance to the Liberian leadership including peer-to-peer assistance from IANPHI members such as the Nigerian Institute for Medical Research (NIMR). 

Dr. Mosoka Fallah, the founding director of NPHIL, believes establishing an NPHI in Liberia is the only way to protect the country from future threats. “It may not be Ebola. It might be another threat that is lurking somewhere,” said Dr. Fallah. “That’s why we want an Institute that will build a system and an institution, so that when individuals like us are gone tomorrow that system, that culture is in place to respond robustly.”