What We Do: Create Sustainable Homes for Public Health Expertise
National public health institutes (NPHIs) help many countries around the world carry out essential public health functions and ensure accountability for public health resources. Globally, NPHIs serve as homes for countries’ public health systems and expertise.
The U.S. national public health institute is CDC in Atlanta, but many other countries have – or are developing – their own institutes. Building on more than 70 years of experience, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention help countries around the world develop and strengthen their own organized, well-functioning NPHIs to protect the public’s health and contain disease close to the source.
Why It’s Important
Public health systems function better when there is a single focal point. When public health activities are fragmented, with responsibility spread across multiple entities, it can lead to:
- Inefficiency due to duplicated efforts or wasted resources
- Lack of leadership and accountability
- Slower response times
- Reduced impact of the programs that are intended to help people
NPHIs address these issues through consolidating public health functions at the national level, bringing together data and expertise while coordinating efforts across sectors.
By offering guidance and support to countries who are developing or strengthening their own NPHIs, CDC helps countries become better equipped to collect and use public health data; plan, implement, and monitor public health programs; and, ultimately, save money and protect lives—both overseas and at home in the United States.
How We Do It
Essential public health functions can be done by more than one institution in a country, and may include:
- Disease surveillance
- Emergency preparedness and outbreak response
- Disease-specific control programs
- Public health workforce development
- Occupational and environmental health
- Public health research
CDC’s NPHI program emphasizes high impact, transformative investments. We draw on existing partnerships and scientific expertise within countries in order to promote self-reliance. When countries request CDC’s assistance, we engage with ministry of health officials and national partners to help countries:
- Develop a strategic plan aligned with public health priorities
- Determine any necessary policy changes
- Create a sustainability plan
- Provide technical expertise (which may include linking with other established institutes or U.S. state health departments)
CDC’s role in NPHI development is to provide technical expertise on essential public health functions and is targeted to a country’s public health priorities. In addition, CDC’s engagement may focus on sub-national public health entities that make up a country’s public health system.
Where We Work
One size does not fit all. Institutes vary in size, scope and availability of resources, and CDC’s role varies based on the context in which we are working. Learn more about where we work.
In addition to Ministries of Health and host country governments, CDC partners with the International Association of National Public Health Institutesexternal icon (IANPHI) on development and strengthening activities.
- National Public Health Institutes Fact Sheet pdf icon[682 KB, 1 Page]
- National Public Health Institute Country Engagement Fact Sheet pdf icon[221 KB, 2 Pages]
- U.S. CDC and African Union Cooperation pdf icon[774 KB, 1 Page]
- Bloland P, Simone P, Burkholder B, Slutsker L, De Cock KM. The Role of Public Health Institutions in Global Health System Strengthening Efforts: The US CDC’s Perspectiveexternal icon. PLoS Med 2012 9(4): e1001199. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001199.
- Frieden, T, Koplan JP. Stronger National Public Health Institutes for Global Healthexternal icon. The Lancet 2012 376: 1721-2.