News Release: Woodruff Health Sciences

Sep. 23,  2011

Public Health Institute Directors from More Than 50 Nations Gather at IANPHI Meeting in Helsinki, Finland

International Association of National Public Health Institutes Sixth Meeting Features Tobacco Use, Chronic Disease, Maternal and Child Health, and Disaster Response

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An international partnership that links national public health institutes from more than 72 member countries will meet in Helsinki, Finland, Sept. 26-28, to discuss joint measures aimed at solving complex health issues around the world. The conference will be held at the Kalastajatorppa Conference Centre.

Sessions will include topics such as tobacco control, maternal health, HPV vaccines, and infectious disease surveillance as well as the role of national public health institutes (NPHIs) in the wake of disasters in countries such as Japan and Germany.

The International Association of National Public Health Institutes (IANPHI) promotes worldwide cooperation among NPHIs, and strives to reinforce or create national public health infrastructure, particularly in the poorest countries, to help them prevent and respond to health threats.

“Health risks today are global, and through IANPHI we bring together public health leaders from all over the world to share answers on how we can protect the lives of people everywhere,” says Jeffrey Koplan, MD, MPH, Emory vice president for global health and director of the Emory Global Health Institute. Koplan is president and co-founder of IANPHI along with Professor Pekka Puska, director general of Finland’s public health institute, THL.

“Health issues are increasingly complex across the world. Policy-making and actions must be built on solid, reliable evidence and international cooperation,” says Puska.

At the IANPHI meeting, Dr. Haik Nikogosian, head of the WHO Framework Convention Secretariat, will give a presentation on the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control as a tool for prevention of non-communicable diseases. The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control is the first binding international treaty in the field of health and has been ratified by more than 170 countries. “This has brought considerable added effectiveness to tobacco legislation and is helping reduce tobacco smoking on a worldwide scale,” says Puska.  According to the World Health Association, tobacco smoking causes 5 to 6 million deaths annually on a global scale.

Similar international efforts for health promotion were discussed last week in New York during the U.N. Summit on Non-Communicable Diseases, including measures aimed at alcohol abuse.

The ability of public health institutes to protect public health has been put to the test recently in crises faced by many countries. Dr. Kenji Hayashi, president of the National Institute of Public Health in Japan, will talk about the countermeasures his institute took in response to the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accident in Japan 2011. Dr. Reinhard Burger, director general of the Robert Koch Institute in Germany will share Germany’s experience in investigating the 2011 e. coli outbreak in 2011.

Maria Guzenina-Richardson, Finland’s Minister of Health and Social Services, will give the opening address at the IANPHI meeting, citing cooperation between national public health institutes and their considerable contribution to building a healthier world.

Since its founding in 2006 and its initial funding by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, IANPHI has grown to include 76 members, who are directors of institutes in Africa, Asia, the Americas and Europe, with many of the same basic functions as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

A press conference and luncheon will be held at the conference on Monday, Sept. 26 from 12:00-13:00. Press credentials are required to attend the conference. Please register with Holly Korschun (information above) or THL communications officer Elina Suontama, tel. 020 610 8897, or at


The Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center of Emory University is an academic health science and service center focused on missions of teaching, research, health care and public service.

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Twitter: @emoryhealthsci

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