Syndemic health crises—The growing role of National Public Health Institutes in shaping a coordinated response

Sam Tweed*, Duncan Selbie, Anders Tegnell, Anne Catherine Viso, Abdifatah Ahmed, Oleksandr Mastkov, Scott Pendergast, Neil Squires

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    2 Citations (Scopus)


    Countries across the world are experiencing syndemic health crises where infectious pathogens including COVID-19 interact with epidemics of communicable and non-communicable diseases. Combined with war, environmental instability and the effects of soaring inflation, a public health crisis has emerged requiring an integrated response. Increasingly, national public health institutes (NPHIs) are at the forefront of leading this, as demonstrated at the 2022 Annual Meeting of the International Association of National Public Health Institutes (IANPHI). These effects are particularly evident where conflict is exacerbating health crises in Ukraine and Somalia. In Ukraine, medical and public health workers have been killed and infrastructure destroyed, which require major efforts to rebuild to international standards. In Somalia, these crises are magnified by the effects of climate change, leading to greater food insecurity, heat-related deaths and famine. National public health institutes are crucial in these contexts and many others to support integrated political responses where health challenges span local, national and international levels and involve multiple stakeholders. This can be seen in strengthening of Integrated Disease Surveillance and work towards the Sustainable Development Goals. National public health institutes also provide integration through the international system, working jointly to build national capacities to deliver essential public health functions. In this context, the 2022 IANPHI Annual meeting agreed the Stockholm Statement, highlighting the role that NPHIs play in tackling the causes and effects of interconnected global and local challenges to public health. This represents an important step in addressing complex health crises and syndemics which require whole-of-society responses, with NPHIs uniquely placed to work across sectors and provide system leadership in response.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)889-897
    Number of pages9
    JournalInternational Journal of Health Planning and Management
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2023

    Bibliographical note

    Publisher Copyright:
    © 2023 The Authors. The International Journal of Health Planning and Management published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


    • COVID-19
    • National Public Health Institutes
    • health crisis
    • public health
    • syndemic


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