“Global health and vaccination is one of the Norwegian Government’s priority areas,” says Minister of Health and Care Services Jonas Gahr Støre. (Photo: Siv Haugan)
Active interest in global health and vaccination
On just his fifth day as Minister of Health and Care Services, Mr Støre opened the Research Council of Norway’s conference on Global health and Vaccination research in Trondheim.
“Global health and vaccination is one of the Norwegian Government’s priority areas,” Mr Støre stated, adding that Norway is stepping up its efforts by doubling its contributions to the international vaccination fund, Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI).
A pillar for the Government
Mr Støre also stressed the importance of the Research Council’s Programme for Global Health and Vaccination Research (GLOBVAC).
Health research is disproportionately distributed: 90 per cent of research in the area revolves around 10 per cent of the global health issues.
“The GLOBVAC programme has been vital in increasing interest in global health and vaccination research in Norway. The programme’s research provides one of the pillars on which the Government formulates its policies,” said Mr Støre.
The GLOBVAC programme has now been extended to 2020. The Minister of Health and Care Services pointed out that during its second programme period, the programme will also incorporate research into health systems.
“This is a difficult field and it all comes down to devising systems that actually work. This is the key to analysing the challenges facing health services both in Norway and globally,” Mr Støre says.
Imbalance in the distribution of health research
Health research is disproportionately distributed: 90 per cent of research in the area revolves around 10 per cent of the global health issues. The 10 per cent of issues dominating the agenda are health issues in the Western world where the willingness and ability to pay are highest. The situation has not changed much since the mid-1990s.
“We now need to start working to correct this imbalance. This requires both a redistribution of resources and efforts to strengthen research communities in the South,” Mr Støre adds.
“For one thing, we need to find the proper balance between the need for personalised medicine here in Norway and the need for mass-vaccinations in the South. In addition, we need to give support to countries encumbered by problems with infectious disease and the proliferation of lifestyle illnesses such as obesity, diabetes and cancer.
Health – a matter of security
As Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jonas Gahr Støre was involved in the preparation of a government white paper on global health earlier this year.
“One of the clear messages in the white paper is that health is also a matter of security. Our safety is dependent on the success of health systems in other countries. Problems in the health sphere can pose threats to a country’s security and create instability, whereas investing in health brings progress and safeguards individual rights,” Mr Støre states.