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January 14, 2018

NIH to be transformed into public health organisation


January 14, 2018

Islamabad : Plans are afoot for the transformation of the National Institute of Health. If things go as planned, the NIH will become a fully functional public health institute within a year and thus, strengthening the country's capacity and infrastructure to handle key public health issues, including workforce development, hepatitis surveillance, and polio eradication, insists NIH executive director Brigadier Dr Aamer Ikram.

"With commitment from high levels in the government of Pakistan, strong leadership, and support from partners, the transformation of the NIH into the National Public Health Institute may come to fruition within the next 12 months," he said.

Though details of these plans are not available, the NIH chief, who assumed the office in July last year, recently went to The Netherlands to seek the help and guidance of the members of the International Association of Public Health, Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, and Public Health England for the development of a vision and plan for the ways and means to turn the NIH into a public health institute.

Accompanied by NIH Virology Department head Dr Muhammad Salman and Public Health Laboratory Division head Dr Faheem Tahir, Brigadier Dr Aamer was hosted by The Netherlands National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, which was founded over a century ago and has a rich history of excellence in public health. RIVM director and IANPHI vice president Dr. André van der Zande along with other RIVM staff members shed light on topics ranging from surveillance to legislation to environment and other key functions of a national public health institute.

“These kinds of meetings are what the IANPHI is all about: in-depth relationships between public health institutes. [It is] challenging, inspiring, helping each other on a mutual basis, solving common problems, and improving the health of our populations,” said Dr van der Zande.

The Pakistani visitors also discussed with the local experts the needs for the NIH's transformation, especially ongoing efforts and major gaps to be addressed by the proposed NPHI. They developed a vision, mission statement and a set of core components for the proposed institute besides a detailed action plan with timeframes and specific activities.

The NIH executive director declared the visit an excellent experience with a very meaningful outcome. "I am sure that we will be able to devote the task and achieve the goals," he said.

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