IANPHI Annual Meeting Highlights Value of Investing in Public Health

annual meeting photo

November 26, 2018

Global health leaders from around the world met in November in London, England, for the International Association of National Public Health Institutes (IANPHI) annual meeting.  More than 130 people attended the meeting, which was hosted by Public Health England.

The 2018 meeting focused on the theme “Investing in the Public’s Health,” with sessions and discussions revolving around demonstrating to governments and policymakers that investments in public health efforts, including national public health institutes, bring substantial benefits. In his welcoming address, Duncan Selbie, Chief Executive of Public Health England, noted his institute has long advocated for prevention as essential for reducing overall health costs and improving health care spending.

Duncan Selbie speaking during annual meeting

Duncan Selbie is the Chief Executive of Public Health England. His NPHI served as host of the 2018 IANPHI Annual Meeting where more than 130 public health directors, partners, and stakeholders attended the flagship event.

“Prevention is better than seeking cures,” Selbie said. “Preventing ill health is better than treating ill health.” It was noted that by reducing the number of people with chronic illnesses and conditions, the benefits to a country include greater workforce productivity, reductions in crimes related to alcohol and illegal drug use, and more effective and efficient healthcare spending.

In line with Selbie’s opening remarks, U.K. Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, outlined the National Health Service’s new long-term plan – Prevention is better than cure. Under this plan, a greater percentage of the Health Service’s resources and efforts would be devoted to improving public health efforts, including addressing childhood obesity and cancer prevention and early detection.

“Our mission is to improve healthy life expectancy so that by 2035 we are enjoying at least five extra years of healthy, independent life whilst closing the gaps between the richest and poorest,” Hanson said. Under the U.K. government’s plans, the National Health Service, which is the publicly funded national healthcare system for England, will receive an additional $26 billion (U.S.) over the next five years.  

Regional Networking Helps Strengthen Global Health

A major part of IANPHI annual conferences is formal and informal networking, with many of the discussions focused on establishing and extending public health emergency preparedness and response.

photo of IANPHI-Africa

In addition to peer-to-peer partnerships, IANPHI's 90+ members have developed strong regional networks. Pictured Dr. TT Samba collaborating with other NPHI leaders during the IANPHI-Africa meeting.

“We can’t predict when the next pandemic will emerge or where,” said outgoing IANPHI president Mauricio Hernandez-Avila. “That is why it is important we have the support of our governments and that we network within our regions. We are certain that when a disease outbreak does occur, the public health workforce in our national public institutes will be on the front lines.”

New IANPHI Leadership and Members

IANPHI’s newly-elected President will be Andre van der Zande, a former IANPHI Vice President and former Director-General of the National Institute for Public Health & the Environment (RIVM) in the Netherlands. The new IANPHI Vice President is Dr. Meerjady Sabrina Flora, director of the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) in Bangladesh.


(l-R) IANPHI co-founder Pekka Puska and immediate past President Mauricio Hernandez-Avila welcome President elect André van der Zande.

Along with new leadership, IANPHI welcomed the following new members: National Institute of Public Health (INSP), Algeria; National Center of Public Health and Analyses (NCPHA), Bulgaria; National Center for Public Healthcare, Kazakhstan; and National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL), Liberia.

The 2019 Annual Meeting will take place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, home to next year's host the Ethiopian Public Health Institute

Topics discussed during the meeting

Investing in the public’s health – the case for prevention

The role of law and regulation in relation to the public’s health

Post WHO reform and the Sustainable Development Goals – responding and adapting to new frameworks

Health security and preparedness
NPHI relations with supranational institutions: experiences of ACDC, ECDC, CARPHA and their members

Lessons learned: establishing a NPHI – looking back at our creation story

Sustainability of NPHIs at the national and international level – financing and advocacy

The Global Burden of Disease study: a tool to set priorities for national public health institutes


Access 2018 Annual Meeting Presentations and Resources here>>