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Postcards from the field
Folkehelseinstituttet (FHI) 



Contact person
Katrine Borgen
Pb 4404 Nydalen
N-0403 Oslo, Norway
Tel +47 22 04 22 28
Fax +47 22 04 25 13

Description of institute
NIPH is the Norwegian governmental research institute of public health and the main adviser to the Ministry of Health in this field. The institute has approximately 800 employees in five divisions: infectious disease control, environmental medicine, general epidemiology, mental health and forensic toxicology. The Norwegian name of the institute is ”Nasjonalt folkehelseinstitutt” or just ”Folkehelseinstituttet”.

The institute runs the Norwegian surveillance system for communicable diseases, the surveillance system for hospital acquired infections, the national epidemic intelligence activities and hosts several reference laboratories that support the surveillance. NIPH assists the 431 municipal public health officers and the hospitals in investigating and handling outbreaks, co-ordinates the development of guidelines in infectious disease control, performs applied research in infectious disease epidemiology, communicates with the media on these matters and trains doctors and nurses in infectious disease control.

Extramural co-operation is mainly with the National Food Control Agency, the Directorate of Health (infectious disease legislation), and the University of Oslo.

The PC network is based on Windows, with software such as Word, Excel, Access, PowerPoint, Outlook, Explorer, Reference Manager, Stata, SPSS and EpiInfo.

The main library subscribes to the major journals in general medicine, clinical microbiology, infectious diseases medicine, epidemiology, public health and other specialities. The satellite library in the Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology receives epidemiological bulletins from several sister institutions and maintains a collection of reference literature.
Training opportunities
EPIET fellows will receive their training in the Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology where they will have an office (possibly shared with one other person) with a portable PC with docking station. The Department is responsible for the Surveillance System for Communicable Diseases ("MSIS"), which has a very high coverage rate and is based on SQL with Excel as user tool (see, the surveillance system for hospital acquired infections (”NOIS”) and the national epidemic intelligence functions. The Department co-operates closely with other departments at the institute, and most research projects in infectious disease epidemiology are multidisciplinary.

The Department presently employs approximately 35 people, including medical doctors, veterinarians, public health nurses, epidemiologists and administrative staff.

EPIET fellows take part in the day to day work in the Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, including discussion, analysis and publication of high quality surveillance data, development of evidence-based guidelines, assisting municipal health officers with outbreak control (in the field, if needed), writing for the weekly "MSIS-rapport" (see, working on research projects, and taking part in ECDC sponsored surveillance and collaboration. Depending on language capabilities, fellows may answer ad hoc inquiries from local doctors and mass media. We have a policy of involving fellows in all parts of the work in the department. The department is involved in several outbreak investigations every year.

The Department maintains strong links with similar institutes in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Northwestern regions of Russia (see The Department leads the international project EpiNorth and hosts the editorial secretariat of the EpiNorth journal (see We also coordinate several projects in Northwest Russia. The EPIET fellows will get opportunities to work in these projects with English as working language, including lectures and facilitation of group works during courses.

The Department runs the Norwegian Field Training Programme (Nor-FETP) with one Norwegian fellow each year following the EPIET cohort with the introductory course and the training modules. A weekly meeting is held with the EPIET and Nor- FETP fellows and the supervisors to discuss development of current projects and to follow up the fellows’ progress.
Training supervision
The supervisors are Preben Aavitsland (Department Director) and EPIET alumni Karin Nygård, Line Vold, Hanne-Merete Eriksen, Hilde Kløvstad, Katrine Borgen (Training Coordinator).
Language requirements
English is widely spoken and understood by almost everyone in Norway. Thus, the EPIET fellow must speak and write English well. Conversational skills in Norwegian (or another Scandinavian language) would be an asset, but is not a requirement. On site course in Norwegian by a private teacher is provided.

A report from the EPIET training site appraisal at the institute in June 2007 is available upon request. A new appraisal is scheduled for May 2009.

The previous EPIET fellows and Nor-FETP fellows trained in the Department will be happy to answer your questions:
Markku Kuusi (Finnish, 1997-99)
Philippe Guérin (French, 2000-2002)
Egil Bjørløw (Norwegian, 2001-2003)
Line Vold (Norwegian, 2001-2003)
Hanne-Merete Eriksen (Norwegian, 2002-2004)
Hilde Kløvstad (Norwegian, 2003-2005)
Barbara Schimmer (Dutch, 2004-2006)
Agnes Hajdu (Hungarian, 2005-2007)
Irena Jakopanec(Slovenian, 2006-2008)

The current fellows may also provide information:
Thale Berg (Norwegian, 2006-2009)
Karina Junussova (Estonian, 2007-2009)
Siri Helene Hauge (Norwegian, 2007-2009)
Gražina Rimšeliene (Lithuanian, 2008-2010)
Tone Bruun (Norwegian, 2008-2010)

Training history
Number of EPIET and Nor-FETP fellows trained at institute: thirteen (1997, 2000, 2001[2], 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006[2], 2007[2], 2008[1])
Number of EPIET alumni working at institute: Six

Available as training site for cohort 15: Yes