Ifakara Health Institute is a world-class research organisation in Tanzania, Africa, with a strong track record in developing, testing and validating innovations for health that save lives. Our mission is to improve people’s health and wellbeing through research, training and services.
We work across biomedical & ecological sciences, interventions & clinical trials, health-systems and policy. Registered in Tanzania as an independent non-profit outfit, our history dates back to 1950s. We are headquartered in Dar es Salaam, with major branches in Bagamoyo and Ifakara – our original birth place.
The Institute is led by the Board of Governors and the Board of Trustees whose members are drawn from the Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH), National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR) and the Swiss-based Geigy Foundation. Our management systems have been certified as ISO 9001: 2015 compliant.
MISSION, VISION, CORE VALUES AND STRATEGY
Our Mission is to develop and sustain a district‐focused health research institute capable of generating new knowledge and information for public health policy and action.
Our Vision is to be a centre of excellence and innovation in health research and development, aiming at maximising population health gain.
Our Values are:
we don’t make excuses; we help others to ensure that results are achieved
Our Strategic focus has always been on impacting positively on the lives of the people. The Institute has had a tradition of preparing five-year strategic plans to guide its operations. In the current strategy which covers the period of 2018 – 2023, the Institute has identified five strategic imperatives that will unlock the potential of the institute, journey it towards its five-year aspiration and, ultimately, enhance its impact on health and wellbeing in Tanzania and the region. These are:
HISTORY AND GOVERNANCE STRUCTURE
A visit to Ifakara by zoologist Dr. Rudolf Geigy from Switzerland in 1949 marked the beginning of over 50-year history of IHI. Geigy [1920-1995], a scientist from the Swiss Tropical Institute in Basel, sought a fieldwork location for researching on tropical diseases. Eight years later, he opened the Swiss Tropical Institute Field Laboratory (STIFL) there.
In the years after the 1961 independence, STIFL played a central role in training medical officers who could serve the country after independence. The government mandated STIFL to play the role through the Rural Aid Centre, which was designed to undertake the assignment.
Tanzania adopted the nationalisation policy in 1970s which championed transferring of public institutions into the hands of Tanzanians. The policy set the stage for the integration of STIFL into a government agency – National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR) in 1990.
The following year, STIFL was renamed ‘Ifakara Centre’ and made an affiliate of NIMR. In 1996, it was made a trust and renamed, ‘Ifakara Health Research and Development Centre (IHRDC). This name lasted until 2008 when it was changed to the current one of ‘Ifakara Health Institute.’
The first Tanzanian science director, Dr. Andrew Kitua, was appointed in 1993. His successors: Dr. Hassan Mshinda and Dr. Salim Abdulla, built strong teams that took the institute to the high level of excellence, extending operations of the institute to other regions.
In 2009, the institute extended its wings by opening a new branch in the Tanzania’s colonial era capital, Bagamoyo. And three years later, in 2012, Kingani Training Center and Clinical Trials facilities were built. The sitting Chief Executive Director, Dr. Honorati Masanja, was appointed in 2016.
The Institute is a registered trusteeship under the Trustees Incorporation Act Chapter 318 which was revised in 2002. The Institute was issued with a Certificate of Incorporation number 1487 on July 10, 2008.
The Institute is led by the Board of Governors (BOG) and the Board of Trustees (BOT). Members of the Boards are drawn from the Tanzanian Commission of Science & Technology (COSTECH), Ministry of Health, National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR), Swiss Tropical & Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH), Swiss Agency for Development & Cooperation (SDC), and Chief Executive Director of IHI, who is also the secretary of both BOT and BOG.
The BOT has two sub committees: Finance, Audit & Risk Committee (FARC), and Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC). Our Management Committee consists of Chief Executive Director (Chair), Director of Science, Chief Operating Officer and Heads of Research departments.
HUMAN RESOURCES FOR PUBLIC HEALTH
The Institute hosts over 150 scientists working on a range of health topics, including maternal, neonatal and child health, nutrition and WASH, malaria, HIV, and diabetes & other chronic diseases. Our team includes sociologists, epidemiologists, community health specialists, clinicians, statisticians, data managers, health economists, public health specialists, nutritionists, community developers, computer programmers, urban geographers, M & E specialists, political scientists, and demographers.
The Institute has built a vibrant research community, supported by local and international collaborations. Over the past seven years, IHI has greatly enhanced its research training initiatives, which resulted in significant improvement in our research outputs and career development opportunities for young researchers in Tanzania and other African countries. The current demographics of our research staff, with a median age of <40, and their scientific productivity are a testament to this potential.
Our researchers currently generate over 100 peers reviewed scientific publications annually and about 4 patent submissions per year. For instance, last year, our scientists published a total of 115 articles in peer reviewed journals in the following areas or subjects of study: Malaria (42 papers), Tuberculosis (12), HIV and Sexually Transmitted Infections (9), Maternal and Child Health (15), Health Systems, Impact Evaluation and Policy (12); and other subjects (25).
AREAS OF EXPERTISE
IHI is best known for its work on malaria. However, we focus on all health challenges identified as important by the Tanzanian government and the people living in communities near each of facilities. The Institute’s scientists and supporting staff are working on a wide range of diseases and ensuring that research translates into tangible health outcomes. Our work and services are organised under the following departments and units:
Environmental Health and Ecological Sciences. We focus on the ecology and transmission of infectious diseases through developing and testing of surveillance and control measures. Key areas include: mosquito ecology and control, water, sanitation and hygiene research. Other areas are: statistics, mathematical modeling, health geography and social innovations. We’re now expanding to other diseases:
dengue, filariasis, Rift Valley Fever and zika.
Interventions and Clinical Trials. Here we conduct trials on drugs, diagnostics and vaccines for malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV. In recent years our scientists have pioneered multiple innovative ways to assess vaccine candidates through malaria challenge studies with infectious sporozoites. We are also providing technical support in other countries to start and implementing clinical trials. For example, we currently have a group based in Equatorial Guinea supporting a large-scale vaccine trial.
Health Systems, Impact Evaluation and Policy. We conduct multi-disciplinary studies of health systems performance including service delivery, quality, effectiveness and equity. We also monitor and conduct Process Evaluation (PE) of national programs and changes in population health status. Social determinants of health, health impact of public policies and social health protection are recent additions to the portfolio.
Training and Capacity Building. While IHI’s primary mission continues to be research, development of human capacity within and beyond the institute has always been valued and is recognized as an essential component of innovation and institutional growth.
IHI has become a major catalyst for the development of high-level expertise, complimented by strong investment in Master’s level education and practical research training. A number of senior scientists are affiliated to national and international centres of excellence, thereby contributing to teaching.
Over the years, IHI has been hosting doctoral fellows who use the IHI research platforms and expertise. IHI also has a strong training program with our students being registered in partner universities in Africa, Europe, and the USA. We graduate more than 10 Masters and 4-6 PhD annually, and our students and post-doctoral fellows secure 4 – 6 research fellowships each year. IHI in partnership with the Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology (NM-AIST) runs a Master’s program in Public Health Research (MScPHR).
CORE ACTIVITIES IN PANDORA
In the PANDORA-ID-NET consortium project, IHI co-lead work page 6 which is on data collection, collation, analysis, integration, sharing and reporting. In collaboration with UCL-UK, IHI plans:
In collaboration with other institutions, IHI will participate in epidemiology, surveillance, clinical and pathogenesis studies: Procedures standardization, inter-epidemic and baseline research development (work package 3), Zoonotic ‘ONE HEALTH’ interface & natural history studies (work 4), Capacity development & training (work package 2) and other work packages. The final goal of IHI involvement in PANDORA-ID-NET consortium project is to ensure the key objectives and goals of the project are achieved.