Monrovia – Health Minister, Dr. Bernice Dahn has expressed delight over the creation of the National Public Health Institute, the first of its kind and further thanked PresidentEllen Sirleaf for the level of involvement in setting up the institute.
A Health Ministry statement quotes Minister Dahn as saying the creation of the Public Health institute was triggered by the unprecedented Ebola Virus that claimed more than 4000 lives, in Liberia and 11,000 lives in the three most affected countries (Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia).
She recalled that following the epidemic, the ministry developed a National Investment Plan with nine pillars, phase three of which plan called for capacity building, surveillance and response and the development of the National Public Health Institute.
When fully functional, the Public Health Institute will improve the health status of the country as an autonomous entity, provide expert advice on the causes of death and disability in the population to the ministry, decision makers and further implement epidemic prevention and control programs, including research.
Minister Dahn also assured that investing in the Public health institute is a cost-effective way of reducing disease morbidity and mortality.
The process creating the Public Health Institute started in April 2015 with a draft zero concepts done by MOH, WHO and supported by CDC in Geneva.
It was followed by stakeholders’ meeting and study tours to Europe and Asia.
The necessary legal framework, strategic and operational plans were also developed. Following an initial engagement of the legislature to advice on the ACT, it was sent to the Presidentwho sponsored it into that August Body.
Following the normal legislative proceedings, both houses passed the ACT creating the NPHIL. Later on December 27, 2016, President Sirleaf signed the bill and finally printed into hand bills this year.
A few days ago, President Sirleaf appointed Deputy Health Minister, Tolbert Nyenswah, LLB, MPH as Director General of the institute and Dr. Mosoka Fallah as his deputy.
Minister Nyenswah has been actively involved in international public health for the past fifteen years, mainly focusing on malaria control and preventive health programs.
He has initiated reforms in health policies. His appointment as assistant Health Minister by President Sirleaf made him to work excellently with governments, international and academic institutions and non-government organizations in Africa, Europe, USA and Asia.
During the height of the Ebola epidemic, he served as head of the Incident Management System in 2014, strategizing every aspect of the response but drawing on the wealth of technical expertise.
The Director General of the newly created Public Health Institute has also been involved with molding the minds of future leaders as law school students and medical Schools at the state run University of Liberia and students studying public health law and ethics at the CUC can attest as his products.
Minister Nyenswah, also a researcher, recently conducted an exercise focusing mainly on Ebola clinical and population research on malaria, malaria indicators surveys and survey for mosquito nets used and ownership.
A native Liberian born from the southeast, the DG of the newly created NPHIL is an affiliate of the Harvard Ministerial Leadership Program, a joint imitative of the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, Harvard Kenney School, and the Harvard Graduate school of Education in collaboration with Big win Philanthropy, supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Bloomberg philanthropies, the GE Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation.
His eloquence and public speaking ability invited him to a number of plenary, seminars and lecture sessions both nationally and internationally the latest being the United Nationals General Assembly, where he presented a paper last year on the progress of the Ebola outbreak response and the roads toward recovery
A Master Degree Holder from the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, DG Nyenswah won close to 20 awards, both nationally and international for his achievement in public health issues.
Namely, the Times Magazine Person award for fighting Ebola, Medal of excellence for public health presented by the Surgeon General of the United States and lately the Bloomberg Hopkins Emerging leaders Award received in September 2016, just to name a few.
He is currently using the prize money from his Bloomberg award to further his passion for the improvement of public health as evident by this text on the effort to create the institute and its significance. PresidentSirleaf decorated Minister Nyenswah in 2015 as Grand Commander by the Order Star for African Redemption.
February this year appears to leave an ineffaceable mark in his life history as it marked his twins daughters, Dehkontee and Nyennekon Nyenswah birthdays, celebrated on the 2 and 3 dates of the month.
He got admission to the Supreme Court of Liberia Bar as Counselor-at-law on 28 February and also elected on the 28 as Lay Leader of the Liberian Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.
Political pundits widely believed that with his wealth of experience and professional expertise, improvement in Liberia’s Public Health is in the offing and bound to be a model for other African countries. Throughout his life, patriotism, accountability, God fearing, integrity and hard work have been the hallmark of Nyenswah’s work.