Plan for NPHI development

Morocco faces multiple public health burdens: infectious diseases, high maternal mortality rates, a growing incidence of noncommunicable diseases, and risks posed by environmental toxins. Inadequate laboratories and surveillance as well as a lack of technical and research expertise hinder evidence-based decision making. 

For almost 25 years public health leaders in Morocco have advocated for the development of a comprehensive National Public Health Institute (NPHI) to integrate the country’s fragmented disease surveillance and control activities into a robust and well-coordinated National Institute of Public Health. 

That dream – led by IANPHI members Dr. Mohammed Hassar (Institute Pasteur) and Dr. Rajae El Aouad (National Institute of Hygiene) - came one step closer to reality in May 2011 with IANPHI Executive Board approval of a $200,000 grant to the Moroccan Ministry of Health. 

IANPHI funds will support a transformative effort, coordinated by Dr. El Aouad, to bring together Morocco’s major public health agencies, including Institute Pasteur, the National Institute of Hygiene and the National Poison Control Center, into a new National Institute of Public Health. The Ministry of Health has dedicated $3 million USD toward a new facility to house the institute. 

Morocco’s government believes creating an NPHI will be valuable in its efforts to: 
  • Clarify missions and establish a legal mandate for public health
  • Consolidate scattered technical and scientific resources
  • Develop consistent laboratory methods and tools
  • Strengthen scientific and research potential
  • Streamline cost and
  • Improve international visibility in the region

IANPHI funds will support the development of the new NPHI including the development and implementation of long-term strategic plans for organizational design, training, human resources and infrastructure. IANPHI funds will also be used to enhance disease surveillance in selected districts through the development of a web-based pilot project that will build upon an existing system for TB and Influenza surveillance. 

IANPHI has been engaged in Morocco since 2007, including active participation in an EU Twinning project that laid the groundwork for the NPHI development effort. Among the accomplishments of the EU plan, which was developed with the participation of NPHI members from Norway, the Netherlands and Finland, are: 

• Development of a strategic business plan for creating the National Agency for Public Health (NAPH) 
• Development of legal decree to establish the new agency for approval by Parliament
• Seed resources to support the development of a national integrated web based Information system for obligatory reported diseases surveillance
• Training for staff in the three institutes creating the new NPHI (National Institute of Hygiene, Pasteur Institute, and the Poison Control Center). Training was focused on epidemiology, quality management, research methodology, and project management

The new Institute’s mission will include several important public health functions:

• Track, monitor and analyze population health status 
• Provide information about risk assessment in public health
• Manage accidents and emergencies related to public health 
• Develop standards and expertise related to laboratory sciences (environmental and biological media)
• Contribute to capacity building
• Support research for infectious diseases, non communicable diseases, environmental health, and drug safety surveillance
• Become a recognized international public health institute and participate in international research networks 

The new NAPH will integrate 584 employees from National Institute of Hygiene, Pasteur Institute and the Poison Control Center. The new organizational structure will include the programs in environmental and occupational health, noncommunicable diseases, poison control, and drug safety surveillance, infectious diseases and population health. NAPH will integrate laboratory and epidemiology support and services across all major program areas and build technical capacity for social and health sciences, and non communicable and infectious diseases research. 

IANPHI’s work to support its Moroccan colleagues is intended to increase public health capacity in research, disease surveillance, laboratory support, analytical and technical expertise and policy development. In doing so, the health status of all Moroccans will be improved. 

Morocco also is exploring several other partnerships including laboratory design by architecture firm Perkins+Will and creation of an FELTP by the CDC.

Notes from the Field

Scientist for Environmental Health Mena Sadeq from Morocco’s National Institute of Hygiene recently visited a community health center during a site visit by the IANPHI Secretariat to review the local surveillance and disease reporting system at district and sub district levels. This and other sites are important to Morocco’s new web-based surveillance system to be implemented by the new NPHI.

Mena Sadeq