EPHI: From Research Institute to NPHI

The Ethiopian Public Health Institute (EPHI) – newly established in January 2014 from the former Ethiopian Health and Nutrition Research Institute (EHNRI) - is breaking new ground as the country’s now legally mandated national focal point for public health.  The change was instituted to reflect the Institute’s expanded leadership role in public health research, emergency management, and laboratory science.

The move by the Ethiopian Council of Ministers is the culmination of years of development of the Institute and advocacy by EHNRI leadership and partners for improved coordination of public health activities, availability and use of data for decision making, and preparedness for, response to, and recovery from emergencies and other public health threats.  With responsibility and authority for aggregating and centralizing public health functions within Ethiopia and promoting health security, EPHI is better positioned to achieve major national health goals and improve health outcomes for the country’s population.

As a key partner in the evolution toward NPHI creation, IANPHI leveraged expertise and experience from member institutes to engage stakeholders and guide development of the Ministerial proclamation, and also provided early support toward development of a five-year strategic plan.  IANPHI was among the first to work with the Institute on plans for an emergency operations center and enhanced emergency response capacities.  This meant strengthening early warning and preparedness systems, building capacity for investigation and response at all levels, and improving communication between laboratory and epidemiology units – all toward the goal of quickly identifying outbreaks and other threats and ensuring a speedy and effective response. 

IANPHI also supported the first studies conducted by the Institute’s fledgling Health Systems Research Department, providing critical experience for staff in conducting operational research and forming new linkages between the public health and clinical care communities.

In collaboration with US CDC, IANPHI will be working with EPHI on a strategic planning exercise to define directions and goals for the institute in line with its new and expanded mandate.  Once determined, the goals will form the basis for continued collaboration between IANPHI and our colleagues at EPHI.