Nordic countries committed to tackling health inequities

Ove Bjorken

Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe delivered a keynote presentation at the Nordic Societies for Health and Well-being Conference in Trondheim, Norway, on 29 August 2014.

Participants at the 11th Nordic Conference on Public Health, organized by the Nordic Societies for Health and Well-being and held in Trondheim, Norway on 27–29 August 2014, negotiated and signed the Trondheim Declaration, committing themselves to contributing to increasing Nordic collaboration for equitable health and well-being in the Nordic region, and reducing global health inequities. The Declaration recognizes the key role of Health 2020, as the European framework and strategy to improve health and well-being.

Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe, delivered a keynote presentation on Health 2020 and Nordic public health at the Conference on 29 August. She highlighted the importance of overarching policy frameworks, such as Health 2020 and the Norwegian Public Health Act, in setting the values and direction for European public health efforts. These values must be supported by public health capacities and infrastructure, and this machinery must be strengthened, if European countries are to achieve their strategic goals.

The Regional Director praised the Nordic region for its history of addressing the social determinants of health in its public health work, citing it as an inspiration for the development of Health 2020.

She noted how the Nordic experience highlights the power of intersectoral action on health taken by regions, counties and cities, and encouraged Conference participants to share their experience in taking action on the social determinants of health with the rest of the WHO European Region.

During her visit, the Regional Director also met Bent Høie, Minister of Health and Care Services of Norway. Norway conducted an independent national review of the social determinants of health alongside the WHO European review, and the Minister is committed to implementing its recommendations.

Nordic conferences on public health

On 27–29 August 2014, over 700 participants from Denmark, Finland, the Faroe Islands, Greenland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden attended the 11th Nordic Conference on Public Health. This series of conferences builds on the contribution of WHO global conferences on health promotion, with the first conference taking place in Helsinki, Finland in 1987, following the International Conference on Health Promotion, held in Ottawa, Canada in 1986.

The 11th Conference was the first to issue a declaration.