Ifakara Health Institute

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Ifakara Health Institute

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About Us

The beginning: 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.

The name “Ifakara” refers to “a place you go to die”, a reflection of the historically high burden of disease in the area, before major control efforts started.

Transformation: 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 nationalization policy in the late 1960s and early 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) which was achieved some years later in 1990

The following year, that’s is 1991, 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.

Flowering era: From the 1990s onward, Ifakara Health Institute  received an influx of funding and prestigious awards for excellence in health research. In 2008, it received the Prince of Asturias Award – a series of annual prizes awarded in Spain by the Prince of Asturias Foundation to individuals, entities or organizations from around the world who make notable achievements in the fields of sciences, humanities and public affairs. The aim is to encourage and promote scientific, cultural and humanistic values that form part of mankind’s universal heritage. In 2010, IHI received the (Tanzania) National Award for Science and Technology.

New Era: 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 2005, the institute extended its wings by opening a new branch in the Tanzania’s colonial era capital, Bagamoyo.

The Institute’s name was simplified to “Ifakara Health Institute,” abbreviated as “IHI” in 2008. The same year, Dar es Salaam Office, where IHI is currently headquartered, was opened.

And three years later, in 2012, the IHI Training Center and the Clinical Trials Facility were built at Kingani area in Bagamoyo.

The sitting Chief Executive Director, Dr. Honorati Masanja, was appointed in 2016.

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