Building connections between National Public Health Institutes and Schools of Public Health

On 20 June 2018, Prof. Dr. Lothar H. Wieler, director of the Robert Koch Institute, spoke on behalf of IANPHI at the annual meeting of the Association of Schools of Public Health in the European Region.

Prof. Dr. Lothar Wieler

IANPHI Executive Board member Prof. Dr. Lothar Wieler speaks at the ASPHER annual meeting.

National Public Health Institutes (NPHI) and Schools for Public Health (SPH), particularly in low- and middle-income countries often exist with little interaction. Courses for education and training in public health are often very different depending on the institution. By making connections there is an opportunity for policy-makers to develop evidence-based policy, for researchers to influence policy and for public health students to enter the public health workforce, thus strengthening national capacity and capabilities. 

On 20 June 2018, Professor Dr. Lothar H. Wieler, director of the Robert Koch Institute, spoke on behalf of IANPHI during the Association of Schools of Public Health in the European Region (ASPHER) annual meeting. The event was co-hosted by the Faculty of Public Health (FPH) and Public Health England (PHE), in collaboration with ASPHER, an organization dedicated to strengthening the role of public health by improving education and training of public health professionals for both practice and research. Held at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, attendees heard presentations from organizations and networks in Europe, United-States, Africa and Asia.

Attended by senior public health professionals from around the world, the goal of the session was to explore options for strengthening collaboration in support of building a strong and capable public health workforce internationally. Both ASPHER and IANPHI, with extensive global networks and with the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health (ASPPH), have the potential to forge a strong international alliance to building public health capacity globally.

During his speech, Prof. Dr. Wieler highlighted the existing collaboration between ASPHER and IANPHI, and noted the importance of the joint work already undertaken to ensure that SPHs support the development of the skills and competencies of public health professionals needed to ensure the effectiveness of NPHIs. He stressed the importance of independent scientific quality for NPHIs to be able to provide evidence-based recommendations, which therefore has to be a strong pillar of the education provided by public health schools.

ASPHER President Professor Kasia Czabanowska emphasized how SPHs can be instrumental in the capacity building around the competencies of effective leadership, systems thinking, communication and political savvy including policy analysis and response to help bring about positive change in Africa. 

Professor Neil Squires, International Registrar at FPH and Director of Global Health at PHE reflected on the success of the event and discussed the key messages: “For me, the highlight of the day came with the concluding statement from Dr. Ruediger Krech of the World Health Organization which acknowledged the value of NPHIs working with SPHs to build global public health workforce capacity. As there is consensus, then the question is not what or whether we should collaborate, but when we take the next steps forward.

Professor Philip Adongo from the Association of Schools of Public Health in the Africa Region (ASPHA) highlighted the need for schools in Africa to draw on the experience of the European schools. “The challenge now is to ensure that we can meet the demand through a well-coordinated mobilization of support between public health schools and NPHIs,” said Professor Adongo. He also shared in his message of how the success in Africa will depend on building on Africa’s many assets, rather than focusing on its problems.

The dialogue will continue at IANPHI’s annual meeting in London on 4-7 November 2018 and at the European Public Health Conference in Slovenia from 28 November-1 December 2018. ASPPH, ASPHER, and ASPHA will be invited to contribute, and we encourage other school of public health networks to contact us at

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