Press Release - September 8, 2015

Media piece and talking points for Strategic Planning Workshop for Strengthening Public Health Systems in SL (NPHI)

Freetown, Sierra Leone – Monday and Tuesday, health experts will gather in Sierra Leone’s capital to discuss the country’s public health future.  Earlier this year, His Excellency President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma stated his support in setting up a public health agency to serve the people of his country.  Having such an agency will help SierraLeone improve the health of the population and respond effectively to future public health threats. 

John Hoover, US Ambassador to Sierra Leone, recently stated that, “the Ebola epidemic devastated the country ofSierra Leone, but it helped heighten the country’s awareness of health issues among its people.  A national public health agency focused on the health of the people building off the recent experience with Ebola response will serve to strengthen all public health functions in the country.”

National public health agencies focus on the major public health problems affecting the country. Their key functions—including disease surveillance, detection, and monitoring; outbreak investigation and control; health information analysis for policy development; research; training; health promotion and health education; and laboratory science—are particularly critical in low-resource nations.

The two-day meeting will be led by Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Health and Sanitation, including Minister of Finance, and the Minister of Education.  Participants will include representatives from the Sierra Leone Ministry of Health and other Sierra Leonean organizations, China CDC, Public Health England, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, and the U.S. office of International Association of National Public Health Institutes (IANPHI) from Emory University. 

According to His Excellency, a top priority for the Sierra Leone government should be a focus on increasing lab support for the country, disease surveillance, and develop the workforce to meet the future public health challenges.    


Talking points:

  • Monday and Tuesday’s meeting will begin laying out the blueprint for a Sierra Leone’s public health agency. 
  • During the two day meeting, participants will begin to articulate and identify the country’s vision for a public health agency and set a plan to achieve this vision to meet the public challenges of the future.
  • China CDC, Public Health England, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, and the Secretariat of the International Association of National Public Health Institutes (IANPHI) at Emory University will participate, to facilitate the discussion and offer technical expertise.
  • The meeting is facilitated by Dr. Sue Binder of the International Association of National Public Health Institutes (IANPHI), a membership organization that links and strengthens the government agencies responsible for public health. IANPHI improves the world’s health by leveraging the experience and expertise of its member institutes to build robust public health systems. IANPHI currently has 97 members from 85 countries. The Secretariat of the IANPHI is based at Mexico’s Instituto Nacional de Salud Publica and France’s Institut de Veille Sanitaire.
  • The meeting was opened by Dr. Brima Kargbo, Chief Medical Officer of the Ministry of Health and Sanitation with welcoming statements by Dr. Abu Bakar Fofanah, the Honorable Minister of Health and Sanitation, Marshall Elliott, Director of the UK Joint Interagency Task Force for Ebola, Ambassador Yanbo Zhao from China, and Ambassador John Hoover from the United States. Welcoming statements highlighted the importance of collaboration and coordination to strengthening the public health systems in Sierra Leone.