WHO inaugurates first African health institute in Ebonyi

From: Obinna Odogwu, Abakaliki

The World Health Organization (WHO), on Wednesday, inaugurated its first health policy and research institute in Africa at the Ebonyi State University, Abakaliki.

The institute, African Institute for Health Policy and Systems Research (HPSR), Daily Sun gathered, has only four centres across the world.

Performing the inauguration ceremony, the Executive Director of Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research, World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland, Dr. Abdul Ghaffar, stated that core function of the institute was to promote health policy and systems research, training and application.

He said that through research, teaching, networking, fellowships and academic exchange programmes among others, the lofty targets of the World Health Organization targeted at offering better health for the people of the world would be achieved.

In his speech, the Director of the Institute in Africa, Prof. Chigozie Jesse Uneke, said that seven sets of health stakeholders mainly policy makers, researchers and NGO executives and others have been trained at the Institute.

According to him, grant along with the technical support received from the Alliance, enabled the team to develop adequate research skills and capacity in HPSR as well as for evidence-informed policy-making in Nigeria.

In his welcome address, the Vice-Chancellor of EBSU, Professor Francis Idike, noted that the establishment of the Institute was a practical demonstration of the University’s Governing Council, Management and Senate’s resolve to position the University as an international citadel of excellence in research and learning.

“Over 120 stakeholders in the health sector including researchers, policy makers, non-governmental organisation officials and health practitioners have been have been trained in the three-month executive certificate course from 2012 till date. Also a total of 38 MSc and 4 PGD students have been admitted and are currently undergoing their training in health policy/health systems at the Institute” he said.

“We look forward to more technical support and funding support from the Alliance to enable the Institute consolidate on the gains so far achieved. This is because the Institute is still at its infancy stage and will require such support. We will continue to partner with WHO and in particular the Alliance to make the Institute truly an International Centre of Excellence in training and research in health policy and health systems” Idike added.