The National Institute for Health Development was established in May, 2003 by merging the following three organizations –
- the Institute of Experimental and Clinical Medicine,
- Estonian Health Education Center
- and the Public Health and Social Training Center.
The objective of the merger was the establishment of a comprehensive public health related research and development center in Estonia.
By Institute-internal cooperation and integration, preventive activities became more evidence-based and public health care research increased in availability for the purposes of shaping health policy as well as planning health promotional and preventive activities.
The National Institute for Health Development started off with three centers:
- research center,
- training and information center,
- and the health promotion and interceptive activities center.
Throughout the years, the Institute's structure has been somewhat amended.
Since 2008, a number of population based medical databases have been connected to the Institute: Estonian Medical Birth Register, Estonian Cancer Register, Estonian Tuberculosis Register and the Estonian Causes of Death Register.
In 2008, the health statistics department from under the Ministry of Social Affairs was also incorporated as a part of the Institute.
The implementation scope of the Institute's national health programmes has also widened – in addition to HIV and drug addiction related prevention activities, tuberculosis treatment and prevention programmes are active since 2003, a cardiovascular disease prevention programme launched in 2005 and a cancer prevention programme started in 2007. A programme against alcohol abuse was initiated in 2009.