Norway is a country with a difficult climate, which historically has challenged the inhabitants to plan well and conserve what they have in order to survive. This has made them strong. And as the saying goes, "Good timber does not grow with ease. The stronger the wind, the stronger the trees." Norwegians have indeed become "strong trees".
This is confirmed by basic facts such as the United Nations Human Development Indicator (HDI). The annual HDI report takes into account such factors as life expectancy, infant mortality, individual gross income and the adult literacy rate. Norway now finds itself at the top of this global ranking.
Norwegians also understand that along with such high quality of life follows a responsibility to the world around them, and no person better typifies this sense of responsibility than Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland. After several stints as Norwegian Prime Minister in the 1980s and 1990s, Dr. Brundtland took office as Director-General of the World Health Organization in 1998.
Dr. Brundtland immediately called on the international community to focus on health as a basic human right. This set the tone for the Director-General's five years in office, a period in which she worked diligently against the production and usage of tobacco; infectious diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS; as well as the gap between the three billion people who live on less than two dollars per day and the rest of the world.
Biotechnology and Health Care
The biotechnology and health care industries in Norway are playing increasingly significant roles in the search for solutions to global health problems. Although still in their relative infancies, success stories are not hard to find. One reason for this impressive development is the strong bond between universities, governmental research institutes and the private sector. As a result, many companies have originated as spin-offs, taking with them the knowledge and the support necessary to break into the market on their own.
The biotechnology industry originally concentrated on niche areas, most notably marine biotechnology. Now, the offerings to the international environment include a wide range of products and services. The Norwegian biotechnology and health care industries are establishing cooperative international alliances in order to further research, develop practical health care and transfer the knowledge that is being accrued in the far north.
Perhaps no one has put it better than the former Prime Minister. In the early days of her tenure with the WHO, she gave a speech where she asked: "What is our key mission? I see WHO's role as being the moral voice and the technical leader in improving the health of the people of the world - ready and able to give advice on the key issues that can unleash development and alleviate suffering. I see our purpose as combating disease and ill health - promoting sustainable and equitable health systems in all countries."
The Norwegian biotechnology and health care sectors enthusiastically share Dr. Brundtland's vision.