The Acting Head of the WHO oPt office, Dr. Mahmoud Daher, met with the Prime Minister of Palestine, Dr. Rami Hamdallah, to discuss WHO activities in Palestine, and in particular the institutionalization of the ongoing project to establish a Palestinian National Institute of Public Health (PNIPH), funded by the government of Norway. The meeting took place in the Prime Minister’s office on October 21, 2013. WHO is seeking to develop the governance structure for the PNIPH with the cooperation of the Palestinian Government.
It was the first meeting between Dr. Daher, who was appointed by WHO in April 2013 and Dr. Hamdallah, who was appointed by Palestinian President Dr. Mahmoud Abbas in June 2013. Also present for the meeting were: Mr. Mazen Jadallah, Advisor to the Prime Minister; Mr. Stein Torgersbråten, Minister Counsellor of the Representative Office of Norway to the Palestinian Authority; Dr. Rand Salman, Project Manager for the PNIPH Project and Dr. Bjorn Iversen, Senior Technical Advisor for the PNIPH Project. The Minister of Health, Dr. Jawad Awwad, was unable to attend the meeting.
The Prime Minister expressed his appreciation and support for the aims of the Palestinian National Institute of Public Health Project, which had been formally agreed between the Palestinian Government and the Norwegian Government in a Memorandum of Understanding in 2011 and launched in 2012. Norway has provided the operational funding of $4 million for the 3-year establishment project. Dr. Daher reviewed the preparatory phase of the project, focusing on the project building its staff, developing partnerships with the Ministry of Health and academia, and carrying out technical assessments to improve the public health information base.
The Prime Minster emphasized the importance of involving the health sector in Gaza in the Institute’s activities to enhance cooperation between West Bank and Gaza in the field of public health and health care. Dr. Hamdullah appointed his advisor, Mr. Mazen Jadallah, as his focal point at the Office of the PM to follow up with the transition of the project into an autonomous agency for scientific work and public health guidance.
Mr. Torgersbråten conveyed the support of Norway to the Palestinian Authority, especially in their state building activities, as exemplified by the PNIPH. Dr. Hamdallah thanked the Norwegians for their support to Palestine and WHO for their engagement and activities.