Launch of the Norwegian white paper on global health

The Minister based his presentation on the following points:    

Friends, Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen,

  • Great pleasure for me to present the Government’s white paper on global health in the presence of so many distinguished guests. A particularly warm welcome to Margaret Chan, Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO) and to those of you who have travelled a long way to take part in the launch.  
  • First ever white paper on global health.
  • One of the purposes of the Norwegian global health policy is to be better at integrating health goals in foreign and development policies and strategies.
  • Understand globalization through the lens of health.
  • The new white paper sets out the direction of Norwegian policy on global health for the years to come.

1.  Let me first emphasise Norway’s long traditions in the area of global health.

  • More than a century ago Norwegian missionaries travelled to many parts of the world. Many of them worked in the field of health. They were later joined by representatives of the labour movement, for example, in Kerala, India, just after the Second World War.
  • A more recent example of Norway’s commitment to this area, is Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland’s leadership of the WHO at the turn of the millennium. We are pleased that she has agreed to give her perspectives at the end of this event.

2.  Second, the relevance of the white paper in today’s global economy

  • The white paper sets out 3 priority areas:

(i) Mobilising for women’s and children’s rights and health
(ii) Reducing the burden of disease with emphasis on prevention
(iii) Promoting human security through health

  • There is a strong link between economic fundamentals and global health. I am therefore happy to see so many leading economists here today, like Professor Bloom, as well as those who have fought for women’s rights in general, like Ms Gumbonzvanda.
  • Most striking change in Norway last century: women’s participation in the labour market.  
  • I am pleased to launch here today an initiative as a follow-up to the white paper: A project that aims at identifying the economic benefits to be gained from investing in women’s health. So far Dr. Margaret Chan (DG WHO) and President Michelle Bachelet (UN Women) have joined the initiative by taking part in the leadership group of the project.
  • From experience we know that it is important to secure the involvement of finance ministers and heads of government on the issue of global health as part of our broader efforts to promote equality and human rights.
  • The initiative will last for 18 months and be led by leading experts in the field.
  • The identification of economic benefits to be gained from investing in women’s health will culminate in a Lancet report.
  • Key partners will include Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Lancet, the UN, the WHO and the World Bank.
  • Invite all to participate in the initiative.

3.  Third, role of global health in national, foreign and development policies

  • No coincidence that Health Minister Anne Grete Strøm-Erichsen is on the podium here today.
  • Many of the health challenges we are facing in Norway are global and cannot be addressed by Norway alone. International action is needed.
  • Not primarily a question of development assistance. Also an important area for the Norwegian Ministry of Health as well as a number of other ministries.
  • We will work actively to enhance collaboration across the various ministries. Coherence key.
  • Another close colleague present here today is Erik Solheim. He is here in the capacity of minister of the environment as much as in the capacity as minister of international development.
  • Climate change poses serious threats to people’s health and nutrition, but there are situations where interventions for better health also can have a positive impact on the environment and vice versa.
  • Clean cookstoves and the reduction in emissions of black carbon and methane are examples of this.

4.  Fourth, civil society and youth

  • Only partnerships can ensure effective action against the global challenges that characterise our time.
  • New democratising technologies such as mobile phones and social networks have increased the opportunities for civil society to play an active role and hold governments accountable.
  • Pleased we have such an outstanding representative like Ms Gumbonzvanda at our panel today to represent the youth (World YWCA). Innovation requires the involvement of young people.
  • The most revolutionary innovations of our time have been created by college drop-outs like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg.      

5.  Fifth, role of the WHO

  • Last but not least, I should mention the WHO – which is at the core of all our global health efforts.
  • Like to congratulate Margaret Chan on her nomination for a second term. Will follow with great interest your efforts to address the many challenges we are currently facing during your next five years in office.
  • The white paper emphasises the central role played by the WHO in relation to the global health agenda.
  • I congratulate Margaret Chan on the effectiveness of the WHO in recent years in contributing to many other partnerships, not least the UN Secretary-General’s initiative in this area Every Woman Every Child.  
  • Norway will continue to be a strong ally of the WHO. But a demanding ally.
  • Thank you for your attention.
 

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