Folkhälsomyndigheten (FOHM) - EUPHEM

acknowledged by EUPHEM available for next EUPHEM cohort
Unit for laboratory surveillance of viral pathogens and vaccine preventable diseases
Nobels väg 18
SE-171 82 Solna

Contact person

Katherina Zakikhany 
Tel. +46 10 205 26 33 

The description of the institute

The Public Health Agency of Sweden (PHAS) has a national responsibility for public health issues and works to ensure good public health. The agency also works to ensure that the population is protected against communicable diseases and other health threats.

Short facts:

  • The Public Health Agency of Sweden is a government agency accountable to the Government (Ministry of Health and Social Affairs).
  • Office locations are both in Solna (Stockholm) and in Östersund.
  • The number of employees is approximately 500.
  • The agency was formed on 1 January 2014 through a merger of The Swedish Institute for Communicable Disease Control and The Swedish National Institute of Public Health.
  • On 1 July 2015 the agency assumed the overall responsibility for the country's communicable disease control from The National Board of Health and Welfare.
  • The agency is the national focal point concerning international threats to public health.
  • The prioritized target groups for the agency are:
    - the Swedish parliament and the Government
    - Governmental agencies
    - Regions and County Councils
    - Municipalities
    - County Administrative Boards
    - Various organizations

The mission of The Public Health Agency of Sweden:

The Public Health Agency of Sweden has the task of disseminating scientifically based knowledge to promote health and prevent disease and injury. In collaboration with other stakeholders, we offer a knowledge base and methodological support, and follow up and evaluate different methods and efforts. Our mission from the government is also to monitor the health status of the population and the factors that affect this. The agency pays special attention to the groups of people with the greatest risk of suffering ill-health. Important partners are other governmental agencies, regions, county councils and municipalities.

Collection and analysis of data

An important basis for all public health work is collecting and analyzing data from different sources. This is why the Public Health Agency of Sweden monitors the health status continuously to ensure the early detection of changes in the population. The work includes receiving reports of communicable diseases and monitoring the occurrence of diseases in general. Within the scope of our mission, we also develop effective systems to monitor public health and the factors that affect the health of the population. Another important task is to monitor the impact of the Swedish childhood vaccination programme.

Overall responsibility for the country's communicable disease control

The Public Health Agency of Sweden has the overall national responsibility for protecting the population against communicable diseases and coordinates communicable disease control on a national level. We develop regulations, recommendations and guidance for healthcare professionals to ensure effective communicable disease control. Some of the agency's responsibilities include introduction of new and surveillance of existing vaccination programmes, emergency preparedness for health threats and control of national stockpiles of communicable disease medications. The agency is also involved and leading on a variety of other activities, such as coordination of activities to fight antibiotic resistance and projects including improvement of infection control, control of healthcare-associated infection and STI´s.

Health promotion in mental health, lifestyle and the physical environment

The Agency compiles, analyses and disseminates knowledge to support health promotion and preventive health work, in areas such as mental health, sexual health and lifestyle. We are also the national coordinating agency for suicide prevention. Our mission in environmental health is to detect, prevent and eliminate health hazards in the physical environment and to promote positive environmental impacts on human health.

Alcohol, tobacco and other drugs

The agency is responsible for coordinated monitoring within alcohol, narcotics, doping and tobacco and compiles, analyses and disseminates knowledge in order to prevent related illness. The agency also has corresponding responsibility for gambling. Our mission also includes overall supervision under the Alcohol and Tobacco Acts. In addition, the agency is responsible for establishing the basis for the classification of drugs and hazardous goods.

International cooperation

The Public Health Agency of Sweden is actively engaged in public health work within organizations including the EU  (ECDC)  and the WHO. We are also a national focal point for these organizations. Through cooperation with other stakeholders, the agency also contributes to the implementation of Sweden’s policy for global development.

Microbiological laboratory analysis, preparedness and outbreak support

At the Public Health Agency of Sweden microbiological laboratory analysis  are performed, including rutine diagnostics, specialized typing assays and  round – the clock preparedness diagnostics a for highly infectious pathogens in risk group 4. We also supports quality and method development at laboratories engaged in diagnostics of communicable disease pathogens. Other important tasks include expert support to outbreak investigations and to maintain laboratory preparedness needed for effective communicable disease control in the country. We also provide operational support to the regions, county councils and national municipalities during outbreaks.

Training opportunities

At the institute all laboratory units are located within the department of microbiology. The laboratory units have close collaborations with other units at the agency, such as units working with epidemiological surveillance, data analysis and statistics.

The Public Health Agency of Sweden is the national reference center for microbiology. We provide support in surveillance and microbial epidemiology, as well as infection prevention and control. We perform diagnostics and research in BSL 2-4 facilities. Reference microbiology is performed for strain characterization and microbial epidemiology to support e.g. outbreak investigations, national surveillance and vaccine implementation and monitoring programmes. Bioinformatics and modelling support for the interpretation of sequence data (WGS), are available on site. Serological diagnosis and seroepidemiology activities are also performed. These functions are applied to a range of public health needs which include support for monitoring vaccine effectiveness (e.g. influenza and MMR) and identifying outbreaks.

The fellow will be trained in accordance with the EUPHEM scientific guide in order to fulfill the stated objectives concerning public health microbiology management and communication, applied microbiology and laboratory investigations, epidemiological investigations (surveillance and outbreak investigation), biorisk management, quality management, teaching and pedagogic, and applied public health microbiology research.

A number of projects have already been identified to be suitable for the future EUPHEM fellow at different units and departments. Of course will outbreak-investigations included in the project portfolio.

Training supervision

The EUPHEM fellow will be supervised by members of the EUPHEM and EPIET supervising team at The Public Health Agency of Sweden. For specific tasks and assignments, the fellow will be supervised by the respective project scientist/supervisor.

Supervision is coordinated by: Mia Brytting, PhD, head of unit and co-supervisor Katherina Zakikhany, PhD and EUPHEM alumnus (C2010-2012).

Language requirements

English. For hands-on experience in outbreak investigations, as well as to be able to work in the national surveillance system, Swedish language knowledge is an advantage.

Training history

Two EUPHEM fellows (Heli Harvala EU-track C2014-2016 and Theresa Enkirch (EU-track C2016-2018) have completed the program at the institute and two are still enrolled. Current EUPHEM-fellows are Nina Lagerqvist (MS-track C2017-2019) and Maximillian Riess (EU-track C2018-2020). Jessica Beser will start as MS-track C2019-2021 in September 2019. Number of EPIET fellows trained at institute: 24 have completed the programme and 2 are still enrolled in the programme. There are two EUPHEM alumina employed at the training site.