2020 IANPHI Annual Meeting: Highlights of the General Assembly

IANPHI announces the election of Duncan Selbie as president. New public health leaders are joining the executive board. The Austrian National Public Health Institute becomes IANPHI’s newest member.

On December 1, 2020 IANPHI held its annual general assembly meeting. It was the first of four virtual sessions of the 2020 IANPHI Annual Meeting, hosted by Fundação Oswaldo Cruz (Fiocruz), the Brazilian national public health institute. 

André van der Zande, IANPHI’s outgoing president and former director general of the Dutch Institute for Public Health and the Environment from 2011 to 2018, announced the election of Duncan Selbie as new president of IANPHI. Prof. Selbie was the chief executive of Public Health England from 2013 to 2020 as well as IANPHI treasurer.  

“Public health institutes are a force for unbelievable good around the world,” said Ducan Selbie, whose three-year term begins in January 2021. “I am passionately committed to serving IANPHI’s members and helping show the world how important national public health institutes are to global health and economic prosperity.”

“IANPHI is very fortunate to have someone of Duncan’s experience and skill at its helm,” said André van der Zande. “The COVID-19 pandemic has reminded the world of how important it is to have strong, effective institutes protecting the public’s health.”

New Members Join the Board

In addition to Duncan Selbie’s election, IANPHI’s members chose five public health leaders to serve on IANPHI’s executive board for three years. The board provides policy oversight for the organization.

See IANPHI’s full board, president and vice president.

IANPHI Regions Select Chairs

Dr. Haleema Al-Serehi, executive director of the Global Health Department at the Saudi Center for Disease Prevention and Control, was elected chair of the IANPHI Asia Regional Network, while Dr. Muhammad Salman, chief of the Public Health Laboratories Division at the Pakistan National Institute of Health, will serve as vice-chair.

In the IANPHI Latin America Regional Network, Dr. Felix Rosenberg, director of Itaborai Forum: Politics, Science and Culture in Health at Brazil's Fundação Oswaldo Cruz (Fiocruz) and chair of the network, was elected for a second term, as was the network's vice chair Dr. Claudia Perandones of Argentina's Administración Nacional de Laboratorios e Institutos de Salud (ANLIS).

IANPHI Welcomes a New Institute

The Austrian National Public Health Institute (Gesundheit Österreich GmbH, GÖG) is IANPHI’s newest member. GÖG is responsible for researching and planning public healthcare in Austria. It conducts monitoring, evaluation and analysis activities related to access to health services, population health status, and risks factors for disease and injuries amongst others. The Austrian institute is not in charge of surveillance, but collects data about infectious diseases and non-communicable conditions. It supports the Ministry of Health in analyzing data and drafting regulations. 

GÖG is also the national center for health promotion and conducts promotion and prevention activities on topics ranging from chronic diseases and maternal and child health, to mental health and the use of tobacco and alcohol. In 2019, GÖG was chosen to host the WHO Collaborating Centre for Health Promotion in Hospitals and Health Services for a period of four years. 

The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), which had been a member of IANPHI since 2014, changed its status from member to IANPHI partner. Established in 2011 and based in Trinidad and Tobago, CARPHA is the single regional public health agency for the Caribbean. CARPHA’s functions include emergency responses to disasters and surveillance and management of non-communicable, communicable, re-emerging, and new communicable diseases.

Recognition of Success 2020

IANPHI’s Recognition of Success initiative shines a light on a selection of outstanding projects led by IANPHI member institutes. Submissions for 2020 were required to focus on topics unrelated to COVID-19. Eleven projects were submitted to the IANPHI regional chairs, tackling various subjects, such as non-communicable diseases, health prevention and tropical diseases.

The winners by region:

IANPHI African Regional Network: Cape Verde’s Instituto Nacional de Saúde Pública. The institute created a national health observatory to contribute to the development of research and surveillance of the population’s health status.

IANPHI European Regional Network: Estonia’s National Institute for Health Development. The institute initiated a self-help program titled “Selge” aimed at reducing excessive alcohol consumption, a major issue in Estonia with significant associated healthcare costs. It also conducted a randomized controlled trial impact study.

The European Regional Network also recognized two other significant projects. Georgia’s National Center for Disease Control and Public Health assessed the five-year survival rates for different types of cancer using the country’s population-based national cancer registry. It allowed the Georgian institute to identify weak links in the chain of cancer care and to make appropriate changes in cancer control approaches. The other project recognized by the regional network was “Bringing A Health Claim to Information” by Belgium’s Sciensano. It looked at the impact of national health information systems on healthcare provision, management and policy-making. 

IANPHI Latin America and Caribbean Regional Network: Colombia’s Instituto Nacional de Salud (INS). Since 2015 INS has been working with pregnant women infected with Zika, as well as their children. The Colombian institute performs comprehensive clinical evaluations of affected children. It also provides evidence-based information for public health policies on Zika and its effect in child disability. INS published two articles in the New England Journal of Medicine entitled “Zika Virus Disease and Pregnancy Outcomes in Colombia” and “Zika Virus Disease in Colombia — Preliminary Report”.

First Virtual Meeting in IANPHI’s History

IANPHI’s annual meetings provide opportunities for NPHI directors to share experiences and expertise, discuss common issues, and plan for future collaborations. In addition to robust scientific benchmarking and technical sessions, these in-person meetings are a rich setting for developing professional and institutional linkages. 

The 2020 IANPHI Annual Meeting was the first meeting in IANPHI’s history to be held virtually. More than 100 people participated in the general assembly as well as in sessions on the renewal of the organization’s strategic vision and the lessons learned from NPHI responses to the COVID-19 outbreak. Discussions were robust and productive despite the virtual setting, and many ideas were shared through the interactive functions of the meeting. IANPHI members provided valuable input which will feed both the implementation of the new IANPHI Strategic Vision 2021-2025 and a first report on the IANPHI COVID-19 Lessons Learned Initiative early 2021.

In closing, leaders from IANPHI and Fiocruz expressed optimism our 2021 annual meeting will be in person in Rio de Janeiro, if the health situation allows it.

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