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Health and welfare a priority under the Norwegian presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers

Photo: Johnny Syversen
  • Published 29/03/2012
The sector for health and welfare is an area with great potential for further Nordic cooperation and one of the priority areas under the Norwegian presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers in 2012.

- The Nordic countries are facing quite similar challenges and they all use a great amount of public resources on this sector, says the Norwegian Minister of Nordic Cooperation, Rigmor Aasrud.


Caring for sharing

Aasrud ​​emphasizes the importance of adopting new technology to be able to use resources in the most efficient way possible. To bring out this technology, the Nordic countries should collaborate when it comes to researching and developing products that work.


- Through collaboration we can reach out to a larger market. Norway alone is a small country, while the Nordic countries together, with its 25 million inhabitants, is a region to be reckoned with. It is important that we remind each other that we from the outside are seen as a pioneer in the health care sector.


Sharing is something that Aasrud ​​wants to highlight. A solution that works well in another Nordic country will most probably also be able to work in Norway. Moreover, the Nordic countries cooperate on some education programs, such as the chiropractic program, and there are also many joint Nordic institutions within health care.



Innovative procurement

When asked how the Norwegian chairmanship will contribute to that the Nordic region stays a pioneer within health and welfare, Rigmor Aasrud ​​says that she first and foremost wants to focus on developing the existing cooperation. But there will also be several priorities, including innovation in public procurement.


- Often the same services are being purchased every time, which means there are great opportunities for innovation and development through raising awareness among those responsible. The public sector is a major buyer as well. 40% of the gross domestic product in Norway is being used to purchase services. The public sector should become better at asking for new products, as this will strengthen the Nordic business sector.


Innovation in public procurement will focus especially on the health and welfare sector. This is defined as a Nordic Lighthouse Project coordinated by Nordic Innovation. The aim of the initiative is to create a model for Nordic cooperation within procurement with a joint Nordic network.


- There are also several economic programs in the Nordic health sector, especially in the area of research.



Do not forget the existing

There is today an extensive Nordic cooperation in many areas, and Aasrud says it is important not to forget what has already been established and functions well, including the passport union and collaboration within education.


- In the health sector there are good examples as well. Among other things the Nordic countries share knowledge when it comes to rare diseases. We are small nations and each country cannot have experts in each field.



A Nordic unit

- As a result of us being isolated small countries the rest of the world often sees us as a unit. In the Nordic cooperation we are working on a common umbrella to strengthen the reputation of the Nordic region through joint branding abroad.


Common branding of the Nordic countries is also defined as a Lighthouse Project, coordinated by Nordic Innovation as well. Another example of a communication project in which the Nordic countries stand united is New Nordic Food fronting the Nordic cuisine.


- In the coming years, we will face major challenges. Our population is getting older, and we will have to learn to adjust to this change. The Nordic model means that we have a strong adaptability. Public administration is often criticized for lacking this ability, but systematic changes are made continuously. It is easy to forget about this, Rigmor Aasrud says.