Create Malawi National Public Health Institute


Malawi is poised to take a giant step toward creating a coordinated public health system that can more quickly and independently identify and respond to outbreaks and perform other core public health functions. Following IANPHI-sponsored strategic planning and stakeholder meetings, the Public Health Institute of Malawi (PHIM) was created by the Ministry of Health in November 2012 and named one of the top national priorities by President Joyce Banda.

Envisioned as a center of excellence in public health, PHIM will provide leadership in disease surveillance, prevention, and outbreak response, as well as research to inform policy and practice in public health. Among its goals are to build a robust and sustainable national public health reference laboratory and shore up the public health workforce.


malawi planning


"We are hoping that with improved coordination of public health functions at the national and sub-national levels, using standard guidelines as well as better communications, we will be able to respond more quickly to disease outbreaks and health threats, thereby improving the lives of the people country-wide, and saving a lot of lives and money in the long term," says Dr. Austin Mnthambala, acting director of the fledgling institute.

The PHIM organizational structure will eventually consist of financial, administrative, and human resources divisions, along with three scientific divisions: Public Health Reference Laboratory;  Surveillance, Research and Development; and Disease Prevention and Response.  Three MOH entities (Epidemiology Unit, Research Unit, and National Public Health Reference Laboratory) have been earmarked as the first scientific divisions to move to the institute in the first phase of development.  Initially PHIM will operate under the MOH but will eventually become a semi-autonomous institution.

PHIM has been allocated office space within MOH facilities that will be renovated to serve as the location of the interim secretariat.  The Ministry of Lands is searching for an appropriate site for eventual construction of a designated building for PHIM.

PHIM is currently receiving financial assistance and guidance from the MOH, and financial and technical assistance from IANPHI and US CDC.  PHIM has also started formal collaborations with other NPHIs, notably the Norwegian Institute of Public Health.

Creating a national public health institute is a priority in order to strengthen governance and stewardship of the health sector.

Malawi President, Joyce Banda


Malawi Facts




118,484 sq km


$5.7 billion




- Lower Respiratory Infections
- Malaria
- Diarrheal Disease
- Perinatal Conditions


58 deaths/1,000 live births


Male: 44 
Female: 51



Source: WHO, World Bank, CDC