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Capacity-Building Development Plan

The National Institute of Health (NIH) is the leading federal institution for biomedical research in Somalia. Its vision is to improve capacity-building development for the health of the Somali people through innovative integration of research, education, training, and prevention and control of diseases.


The NIH supports and conducts scientific research that addresses important public health issues for the country and guides the decision-making of public health authorities. The NIH collaborates with the Ministry of Health and Human Services (MOH&HS) and other national and international partners to build health capacity for Somalia and to achieve universal health coverage and the Sustainable Development Goals.

The NIH’s main functions include:
  1. – International Health Regulation Focal Point (IHRFP)
  2. Field Epidemiology Capacity Development
  3. Public Health Emergency Operations Center
  4. Public Health Laboratory Capacity Development
  5. Public Health Research Unit

Somalia’s International Health Regulation Focal Point (IHRFP)

NIH is the designated International Health Regulation Focal Point (IHRFP) for Somalia, a State Party to the International Health Regulations (IHR) 2005. The IHR is a legally binding agreement of 196 countries to prevent, protect against, control and respond to public health emergencies of international concern. As the IHRFP, NIH coordinates and facilitates the implementation of the IHR 2005 and the National Action Plan for Health Security (NAPHS) in Somalia.


The main objectives of the IHR 2005 are to reduce morbidity, mortality, disability, and socio-economic disruptions caused by outbreaks, emergencies, and public health threats of national, regional, and global concern. To achieve these objectives, NIH works to improve and strengthen the country’s reporting to WHO as required by the IHR 2005. NIH also supports the development and maintenance of the core capacities for surveillance and response at the federal and state levels. In addition, NIH contributes to the health research and development agenda in Somalia by collecting, interpreting, and analyzing data on public health hazards.

Field Epidemiology Capacity Development

Field epidemiology training programs (FETPs) are in-service training programs that improve the country’s capacity to respond to public health emergencies across different levels of the health system. FETPs train field epidemiologists around the world, giving them the necessary skills to collect, analyze, and interpret data and contribute to evidence-based decisions. FETPs also strengthen the capacity of countries to detect, respond to, and contain public health threats at their source, preventing the spread of diseases and thereby enhancing global health security more rapidly.


The first Frontline-FETP in Somalia was inaugurated on 29th August 2021. A total of 44 health workers graduated in two cohorts that were selected from national and sub-national levels. The first cohort had 21 participants and graduated in July 2022, while the second cohort had 23 participants and graduated in August 2022. The Frontline-FETP targets public health professionals and surveillance/IDSR officers at national, state, regional, and district levels. It provides short training to enhance the epidemiological skills of health professionals and services.

Public Health Emergency Operations Center

NIH PHEOC is supporting the Ministry of Health and Human Services in Somalia to develop and strengthen a surveillance workforce that can respond to public health emergencies and comply with the International Health Regulation (IHR) requirements.

PHEOC objectives are:

  1. – To establish event-based surveillance as an effective mechanism for early warning, risk assessment, disease prediction, and response coordination.
  2. – To set up a National PHEOC that can oversee and integrate surveillance systems across different sectors and ensure that surveillance data informs national policy and public health actions.
  3. – To enhance the implementation of the existing surveillance systems (such as Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response IDSR) within the National and Regional Member States to foster collaboration and data sharing on surveillance.
  4. – To assist Member States in building a competent and sufficient surveillance workforce, as well as providing tools and resources to support IDSR and IHR compliance.

Public Health Laboratory Capacity Development

NIH is working to strengthen the laboratory systems in the country by developing and implementing a national laboratory strategic plan. This plan aims to align with the national needs and priorities for improving health outcomes and achieving universal health coverage. To assess the current status of laboratory strategic planning and implementation in Somalia, NIH is conducting an electronic survey among its stakeholders and partners. The data collected from this survey will help NIH to identify the gaps and challenges in the laboratory sector and to design targeted actions to address them. These actions may include but are not limited to, training laboratory staff, developing laboratory policies, and establishing laboratory technical working groups at the country level.

Public Health Research Unit

The National Institute of Health conducts rigorous and high-quality health research in various fields that affect the well-being of the Somali population. For example, we study how to prevent and treat infectious diseases such as COVID-19, tuberculosis, and malaria; how to reduce the burden of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular diseases; how to improve the health of mothers and children through interventions such as immunization, nutrition, and family planning; how to address the environmental factors that impact health such as air pollution, climate change, and water quality; and how to strengthen the health systems that deliver essential services such as primary care, emergency response, and health promotion. We generate scientific data and evidence-based policy guidelines that inform and support effective public health interventions and outcomes.