Nordic NPHIs Collaborate on Aid and Public Health

January 4, 2016

Frode Forland, Program Head, Global Health Preparedness, Norwegian National Public Health Institiute 

"The divide between national and international health challenges is eroding in our time. We must reassess the roles of the different actors in global health and aid," noted Helga Fogstad director of Department for Global Health, Education and Research at NORAD (the Norwegian Agency for Development) during a meeting in Stockholm on December 2nd 2015.

The meeting came about as a follow-up of a Nordic meeting on global health preparedness between the Nordic public health institutes organized at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health in April 2015. One of the conclusions from that meeting was that there is a need for closer cooperation between those who have the know-how on public health and those who have the experience in and knowledge of processes and skills within development assistance.

Working Smart
Nordic Health

"We need to work smart in relation to aid and development cooperation in the years ahead," said the director of SIDA (the Swedish Development Agency), Charlotte Petri Gornitzka. SIDA is represented by 40 Swedish embassies around the world, and Norway has representatives in a number of other countries. We can benefit greatly from closer cooperation both in the field and at home, both among aid organizations in the Nordic countries and between the Public Health Institutes and aid organizations in each country.

Public Health England was also invited to the meeting, and informed about their collaboration with the UK Development Directorate (DIFID). "To enhance a good dialogue it is important to have joint projects to work on, to respect each other's different skills, to participate in common meetings and strategy discussions and to exchange staff," said Director Mark Keilthy.

NORAD presented the Norwegian priorities in global health:
1. Continued work to meet the Millennium health goals, - Mother-child health, HIV, TB and Malaria
2. Global Health Security, - including strengthening of health systems, pandemic preparedness and response, implementation of the International Health Regulations and antimicrobial resistance
3. NCDs - including climate change and health and Universal Health Coverage

Global Health Security

Director John-Arne Røttingen from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health emphasized in his presentation that support for the implementation of the International Health Regulations and to the WHO is essential to ensure global health security. The Norwegian Program on Global Health Preparedness deals with this agenda. Twinning with other public health institutes is one way of working, and Norway has started its collaboration with Malawi, Palestine, Moldova and Ghana.

Before meeting again in the near future, the group decided to conduct a survey of all projects on global health in each of the organizations and discuss national cooperation. This will lay the foundation for further development of Nordic collaboration in the area.