MINISTER of Health Sylvia Masebo has appointed the new board of directors for the Zambia National Public Health Institute (ZNPHI).

At a briefing, Tuesday, Masebo said each of them had been carefully selected and she was confident they would discharge their duties diligently to meet the expectations of all Zambians.

“I am pleased to announce that the ZNPHI Board will be chaired by Professor Peter Mwaba, an eminent Infectious Diseases Physician and Professor of Internal Medicine. He is renown internationally and has received several prestigious awards for medical practice and research. He has in the past served as President of the Zambia Medical Association. Prof. Mwaba is currently the Chief Executive Officer of the Lusaka Apex Medical University, Zambia’s first privately-owned Medical University. He has previously held senior leadership positions, including as Head of the Internal Medicine Department at the University Teaching Hospital (UTH), Managing Director of UTH, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs. I have no doubt that Prof Mwaba and his fellow Board members will help steer the ZNPHI to higher heights. I urge the ZNPHI Management and the Board to work together in harmony as a team and ensure that ZNPHI thrives to be the Centre of Excellence in public health security,” she said.

“To the Board, it is my expectation that by the end of your three-year tenure of office, our national capacity for handling public health threats will greatly expand and become even more robust. I would like to see us being more prepared to detect and prevent outbreaks and other health threats. Should outbreaks occur, we need to be proactive, as opposed to being in a reactive position. It is your duty to ensure that the subnational multisectoral coordination structures are strengthened to provide local level oversight and response. Here I am referring to the Provincial and District Epidemic Preparedness, Prevention, Control and Management Committees. Additionally, the technical rapid response teams at local level must be empowered and supported so that they take ownership and lead in the community response to public health threats. The dependence on the central level to solve local issues must end. Furthermore, I would like you to promote community level activities that promote health and prevent outbreaks. These deliverables and expectations are actually in tandem with the New Dawn Government’s agenda of Decentralization and empowerment of communities. On the more technical front, I would like to see the ZNPHI enhanced with specialized functions for diagnosing and tracking new and re-emerging disease threats, as well as research capability to generate knowledge applicable to our own local setting”.

She emphasised that the board would help mobilise the required resources, and that the ZNPHI management would be responsible for the day-to-day execution of programs and operations of the Institute.

“In line with best practice and as stipulated in the ZNPHI Act No 19 of 2020, there is a need to have in place a governance and oversight mechanism for ZNPHI through the Board of Directors. This will ensure that the ZNPHI is managed effectively, efficiently and transparently as the Institute fulfils its mandate of preserving our national health security,” she said.

“Let me be quick to clarify and emphasise that while the Board will provide oversight to the ZNPHI and help to mobilise the required resources, the ZNPHI Management will be responsible for the day-to-day execution of programs and operations of the Institute. As such, there is a clear separation of powers and roles between Management and the Board”.

Masebo highlighted how ZNPHI was brought into existence through policy decisions to enhance the national public health security.

“The Zambia National Public Health Institute (ZNPHI) was brought into existence by the Government in 2015 through a policy decision to enhance our national public health security. This decision also coincided with the need to operationalize the African Union Resolution AU/DEC.554(XXIV), which birthed the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) and its three-tier operational model. The ZNPHI was subsequently established as a statutory body through the ZNPHI Act No. 19 of 2020, which defines the institution, provides authority and protects its existence,” she said.

“Establishment of the ZNPHI is also in line with current international best practice for addressing public health security. You will note that many countries have built capacity to effectively tackle health security through dedicated specialized technical agencies. These include the US CDC, China CDC, European CDC, Korean CDC, and UK Health Security Agency, among others.
As a specialized technical institution, the ZNPHI is mandated to lead in safeguarding Zambia’s health security through surveillance and disease intelligence systems, emergency preparedness and response capabilities, specialized laboratory functions, health information management systems, workforce development, and generation of scientific evidence through research. Additionally, the ZNPHI anchors Zambia’s designated role as host of the Africa CDC Regional Collaborating Center (RCC) for Southern Africa”

She congratulated all board members on their well deserved appointments.

“In constituting the ZNPHI Board, I am glad to note that eminent men and women of high standing in our society and internationally have been selected. It is now my privilege and honor to officially inaugurate the ZNPHI Board of Directors. Congratulations to you all ! God Bless you as you discharge your duties for the people of Zambia,” said Masebo.