Malawi, Norway, and IANPHI Partnership
March 26, 2015
by Frode Forland, Program Head, Global Health Preparedness, Norwegian Institute of Public Health
Malawi has a population of 16 million people and a total of 250 medical doctors. Norway, in contrast, with its 5 million inhabitants has about 32,000 medical doctors. Through support from IANPHI and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH), Malawi has established the Public Health Institute of Malawi (PHIM). Three departments from the Malawi Ministry of Health constitute the core of the new institute: the department of disease surveillance, department of research, and national reference laboratory.
On March 18, 2015, a memorandum of understanding was signed between NIPH, IANPHI, and Ministry of Health in Malawi. The agreement entails support for the strengthening of the National Institute of Public Health in Malawi to become an independent institution for evidence-based public health research, emergency preparedness, disease surveillance, and reduction of health inequalities in the country.
"Bacteria and viruses, e.g. Ebola, know no boundaries. We must therefore cooperate internationally for mutual benefit,"
- Malawian Secretary for Health Mr. Chris Kang'ombe during the ceremony for the signing of the agreement.
NIPH has together with PHIM conducted an assessment of the country's preparedness functions at local, regional, and central level levels where topics such as surveillance, laboratory capacity, health care, communications, cross-sectoral cooperation, and coordination have been evaluated. These are basic functions that all countries are obligated to have in place according to the WHO International Health Regulations (IHR 2005).
In Malawi a number of these systems are in place, but few or none have been tested, and others have proved inadequate during ongoing crises like Ebola, cholera and the flooding that is presently devastating areas in the south of Malawi.
NIPH will therefore support PHIM through development and implementation of capacities to meet the IHR requirements and ensure the health and safety of the country's population.
The Norwegian Ambassador to Malawi, Kikkan Haugen expressed in his speech that the Embassy wishes the collaboration between Norway and the Malawian Institute of Public Health all success and that Norway will contribute with financial, human and academic support through NIPH.