The future Nordic Co-operation on Health

20 Jun.2014

Bo Könberg has written a report which contains tangible proposals for how the Nordic co-operation can be developed and strengthened in the next five to ten years. It was presented for the first time in conjunction with the meeting of the Nordic Ministers for Health and Social Affairs in Iceland on 11 June 2014.

Main conclusions in the report

  • All Nordic countries wish to extend and strengthen the co-operation in the health area.

  • There is a widespread perception that the growing resistance to antibiotics requires vigorous action in the world.

  • The countries have shown great interest in more co-operation on highly-specialised treatment.

  • There is a widespread perception that the countries should co-operate more and better with register-based research.

  • There is a widespread perception that psychiatric ill-health has increased in the Nordic region, not least among children and young people.

  • The countries have shown great interest in continued and extended co-operation on inequalities in health.


Mr. Könbergs 14 proposals for change

Antibiotic resistance

Proposal 1: Vigorous measures against the increasing antibiotic resistance. The Nordic region should emphatically push the issue of vigorous measures against the increasing antibiotic resistance and resistance to drugs against tuberculosis and malaria. Although the Nordic countries, on average, have lower antibiotic use than the rest of Europe, and of course are themselves responsible for a very small proportion of the world problem, they must set up their own targets to rapidly – in the next 5 years – reduce consumption of antibiotics to the lowest European level, which is currently that of the Netherlands.


Highly-specialised treatment

Proposal 2: A Nordic review group is set up at high level that will strengthen and further develop the Nordic co-operation on highly-specialised treatment in health care.


Rare diagnoses

Proposal 3: Set up Nordic network on rare diagnoses.


Register-based research

Proposal 4: A Nordic virtual centre is set up for register-based research. The Nordic research co-operation on data registers, biobanks and clinical intervention studies will be strengthened by facilitating access to our unique Nordic data sources in research. A model for mutual recognition of ethical reviews of Nordic research projects will be introduced. Such co-operation can help to develop research, business and welfare in the Nordic region.


Public health and inequalities in health

Proposal 5: Increased co-operation on initiatives to improve public health. The Nordic countries should increase the exchange of information on public health issues, particularly the use of tobacco and misuse of alcohol.


Proposal 6: A Nordic public health policy platform to reduce inequality in health. A Nordic public health policy platform will be set up with the task of developing proposals for Nordic projects and activities aimed at reducing inequality in health.


Patient mobility

Proposal 7: Patient mobility within the Nordic region. At next year’s ministerial meeting, the Nordic countries should evaluate the effects, on the patients, of the Nordic countries’ recently-adopted implementation of the EU patient mobility directive, and try to further extend the right to treatment in any of the other Nordic countries.


Health and technology

Proposal 8: Strengthened co-operation on welfare technology. A common Nordic definition of welfare technology is developed. A common Nordic market is strengthened by harmonising standards for welfare technology products and by developing common guidelines. The inclusion of users in the development work in welfare technology is promoted through dissemination of information, good examples, and common guidelines.


Proposal 9: Extended co-operation on e-Health. Co-operation on e-prescriptions should continue with Nordic ownership. A Nordic health library (online) is created. A Nordic search tool, “My Patient” is developed.



Proposal 10: Stronger Nordic co-operation in the psychiatry area. The Nordic co-operation on psychiatry is strengthened by an annual Nordic summit meeting within the psychiatry field, greater Nordic collection of knowledge, and exchange of experience on models of best practice.


Health preparedness

Proposal 11: Greater mandate for co-operation within the health preparedness area. The Nordic public health preparedness group (the Svalbard Group) will have a greater mandate. All aspects within the framework of co-operation on health preparedness will be included.



Proposal 12: Extended Nordic pharmaceutical co-operation for greater cost-effectiveness and better safety. The Nordic co-operation in the pharmaceutical area is extended by setting up a joint pharmacy for unusual drugs, greater co-operation on rare drugs, and through greater exchange of information on purchasing agreements and on implementation of new drugs.


Exchanges for officials

Proposal 13: Increased exchange of Nordic officials in the health area will be set up. More officials in the ministries will be given the opportunity for short exchanges to create more and better networks that will increase Nordic expertise and competitiveness.


National experts in the EU

Proposal 14: New informal co-operation on placement of national experts in the European Commission will be initiated in the social and health area


About the author

Bo Könberg is a Swedish MP representing the Liberal Party. He was Minister for Health and Social Insurance 1991–1994, and led the work on the Swedish Pension Reform. He has participated in a number of Swedish inquiries on welfare issues, including the Ädel Reform and Charges for Medical Care.


Download the full report



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