Gates Grant Will Help Emory, Finland Build International Public Health Network

Emory University, in partnership with the Finnish National Public Health Institute (KTL) in Helsinki, has received a USD 902,554 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to enhance IANPHI over the next year.

Founded in 2002 with support from the Rockefeller Foundation, IANPHI is a growing network of public health agencies that encourage participants to learn from each other's experiences. More-established agencies, such as KTL, provide smaller, younger national health agencies scientific and technical support to build their national public health systems. IANPHI also incorporates the perspectives of public health experts who have served the needs of both the developed and developing world, and who are currently in the academic community or the private sector.

Jeffrey Koplan, MD, MPH, vice president for academic health affairs in Emory University's Woodruff Health Sciences Center and former director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), is the principal investigator for the IANPHI grant. Co-investigators are Pekka Puska, MD, PhD, director general of KTL, and Pekka Jousilahti, MD, PhD, research professor with KTL.

"With increasing globalization and travel, the public health issues of one country can quickly affect the entire world," explains Dr. Koplan. "The Gates Foundation grant will provide some concrete tools for bringing the world's national public health agencies together."

Currently, there are 35 national public health agencies connected through IANPHI, and each one brings something different to the association. The KTL has been successful in reducing chronic disease mortality, and the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research may be able to share its success with HIV and AIDS prevention. Academic institutions such as Emory bring the educational support and expertise to teach basic public health skills including surveillance, laboratory support, health communication, policy development, epidemiology, and health education.

Expertise and support from IANPHI will help fledging national public health agencies build basic public health infrastructure necessary to deliver aid from international and philanthropic organizations.

"Every country has different religious, social, and political systems, but they need support in developing a strong national public health infrastructure to make long-term disease control programs sustainable," says Dr. Koplan. 

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