Spotlight on New NPHIs: Ethiopia, Guatemala, Slovenia, and Somalia

The first half of 2014 has marked important progress in the work of numerous national public health institutes (NPHIs). Here, we highlight the important strides made by four recently-established NPHIs.


The Ethiopian Public Health Institute (EPHI) – newly established in January 2014 from the former Ethiopian Health and Nutrition Research Institute (EHNRI) – is breaking new ground as the country’s now legally mandated national focal point for public health. The change was instituted to reflect the Institute’s expanded leadership role in public health research, emergency management, and laboratory science.

The move by the Ethiopian Council of Ministers is the culmination of years of development of the Institute and advocacy by EHNRI leadership and partners for improved coordination of public health activities, availability and use of data for decision making, and preparedness for, response to, and recovery from emergencies and other public health threats. With responsibility and authority for aggregating and centralizing public health functions within Ethiopia and promoting health security, EPHI is better positioned to achieve major national health goals and improve health outcomes for the country’s population.

In collaboration with the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (U.S. CDC), IANPHI will be working with EPHI on a strategic planning exercise to define directions and goals for the institute in line with its new and expanded mandate. Once determined, the goals will form the basis for continued collaboration between IANPHI and our colleagues at EPHI.


Guatemala’s public health institute, the National Center of Health Sciences (CNCS), opened its doors in February 2014 and will operate as a new branch of the Guatemala Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW). The new institute was conceived and developed by the MOHW with support from the U.S. CDC’s Guatemala country office. IANPHI will engage in the project as it moves forward.

Led by Dr. Mayari Centeno, MD, MPH, the institute was founded with the vision of generating, regulating, and applying scientific knowledge to address public health challenges in Guatemala. The institute aims to strengthen the existing health system and promote multi-sectoral collaboration in order to increase the country’s capacity for addressing issues of national public health importance.

The new institute's divisions include epidemiology, public health research, health education, and management of new and ongoing health programs. By devoting resources to epidemiology and public health research, the CNCS will provide much-needed support for national disease surveillance, epidemiologic intelligence, and development, and will allow the Ministry of Health and Welfare to more effectively and efficiently prevent, diagnose, and treat disease.


Slovenia has had a strong public health system for many decades, but 2014 marked a momentous transition for Slovenian public health. On January 1, the Slovenia National Institute of Public Health (NIPH) merged with the local health care institutions of the country, an important step toward strengthening the public health system.

By increasing the linkages between experts in the field and the programs being implemented at the local level, NIPH hopes to “improve the health and quality of life of the inhabitants of Slovenia.”

The NIPH is responsible for monitoring and evaluation of population health, health care, and challenges in public health; planning and implementing measures of health promotion, protection, and preparedness; public health professional training; research; and, educational activities. 


The Somalia National Institute of Health, established in December 2013, has now selected its Board of Management, and is seeking parliamentary approval to become an independent institute within the Somalia Federal Ministry of Health. The institute is organized into five main divisions, which include infectious disease control; epidemiology, training, and research; emergency preparedness and response; food and drug quality assurance; and, environmental medicine.

In the brief time since its establishment, the Somalia NIH has garnered support from IANPHI and formed collaborative partnerships with U.S. CDC Kenya, KEMRI, the Norwegian Institute for Public Health, and others.

The NIH has now launched a website, which provides relevant, up-to-date resources regarding the institute’s activities and research.

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