Guatemala Public Health Institute

February 25, 2015

Christina Craig

On February 24th, representatives from the Guatemala Ministry of Health and U.S. CDC gathered for the official launch of Guatemala's new national public health institute (NPHI). Hoping to build upon and better integrate its existing public health capacities, including the development of the CNCS in 2014, the Guatemala Ministry of Health has called upon the technical expertise and network of IANPHI and the U.S. CDC to support Guatemala’s NPHI development, and representatives from the U.S. CDC and IANPHI met with the Ministry of Health in January 2015 to discuss next steps for the creation of a comprehensive NPHI in Guatemala. The U.S. CDC and IANPHI see the potential for Guatemala to become a regional leader in public health through the creation of the nation’s comprehensive NPHI: the Centro de Control de Enfermedades Guatemala (CDCE).

New NPHI strives to protect health, with focus on promotion, prevention, surveillance, control, and disease response

With a mission to ‘protect the health of the Guatemalan population through promotion, prevention, surveillance, control, and response to new, emerging, and neglected diseases,’ the CDCE will serve as Guatemala’s national command center for public health, incorporating each of the essential public health functions.  

Responsibilities of the new institute will be divided among CDCE’s three main divisions: Management, Disease Research and Analysis, and Health Sciences. Also linked to the CDCE through an institutional agreement will be the Ministry of Health’s Risk Management Unit, National Center of Epidemiology (CNE), and the National Health Laboratory.

IANPHI fosters peer-to-peer relationship

IANPHI is committed to facilitating and supporting the creation of new NPHIs through its unique, peer-to-peer approach. By fostering peer “twinning” relationships between NPHIs, IANPHI encourages established NPHIs to share their experience and expertise with fledgling institutes. IANPHI has linked the Guatemala CDCE with neighboring Colombia’s well-developed NPHI, the National Institute of Health. Guatemala’s “twinning” partnership with Colombia has already facilitated dialogue regarding the new institute’s structure, and Guatemala’s Ministry of Health will visit Colombia’s institute for a study tour later this month.

The U.S. CDC and IANPHI will continue to play an integral role in the next steps of CDCE’s creation, including an upcoming stakeholder’s meeting to discuss cooperation and collaboration among the Ministry of Health’s many public health divisions.

February 2014

Christina Craig

A longtime leader in public health and health education in Mexico and Guatemala, Dr. Mayari Centeno is proud to serve as the inaugural Director of Guatemala’s newly established National Center of Health Sciences (CNCS), which opened its doors in February 2014 and will operate as a new branch of the Guatemala Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW). CNCS was conceived and developed by the MOHW with support from the U.S. CDC’s Guatemala country office. IANPHI will engage in the project as it moves forward.

Led by Dr. Centeno, MD, MPH, CNCS was founded with the vision of generating, regulating, and applying scientific knowledge to address public health challenges in Guatemala. The institute aims to strengthen the existing health system and promote multi-sectoral collaboration in order to increase the country’s capacity for addressing issues of national public health importance.

Health research, promotion: priorities of CNCS

Among the divisions of the institute are epidemiology, public health research, health education, and management of new and ongoing health programs. By devoting resources to epidemiology and public health research, the CNCS will provide much-needed support for national disease surveillance, epidemiologic intelligence, and development, and will allow the Ministry of Health and Welfare to more effectively and efficiently prevent, diagnose, and treat disease.

Public health promotion is a priority for Dr. Centeno, and the health promotion and evaluation work of the CNCS health research division will be imperative to the promotion of positive health behavior across Guatemala. The National Reference Laboratory – also a component of the new CNCS – will serve as a national center for research and testing, including food analysis, medications, and environmental health.

Health education key to growing public health workforce

In addition to its research components, the CNCS will offer public health education opportunities for Guatemalans at both the undergraduate and post-graduate level. The CNCS’s commitment to public health education is a groundbreaking step for the country and will be pivotal to the growth of a robust, well-trained national public health workforce.

The CNCS’s management division will provide strategic planning of health programs, financial management, and health information support, as well as the development of the country’s first e-health department. Furthermore, the management division will promote the establishment and maintenance of collaborative efforts and appropriate resource allocation among public and private health sector organizations.

Under the direction of Dr. Centeno, the many divisions of the CNCS will together generate and disseminate evidence-based health knowledge to inform health policy and improve the health of the people of Guatemala, both today and for generations to come.

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