Report: Gathering for the Future of Global Health: Norway's strategy "Better Health, Better Lives" Launch Event
On November 22, at the Universitetets Aula (University Hall) of the University of Oslo (UiO), a gathering for the future of Global Health was co-organized by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Norwegian Ministry of Health and Care Services and supported by the Centre for Global Health, UiO.
Maria Neira, World Health Organization, Photo: Medvind
This event launched Norway’s strategy “Better Health, Better lives – Combating Non-Communicable Diseases in the Context of the Norwegian development Policy 2020-2024.” The government’s new strategy aims to contribute to reducing the number of premature deaths from non-communicable diseases in low-income countries by a third by 2030 (Sustainable Development Goal 3.4), and generally to improve people’s health through the life course.
The ceremony was moderated by Maria Neira, Director of the Department of Public Health and Environment at the World Health Organization (WHO). The ceremony commenced with a piano performance by the young artist, Lukas Claude. Dag-Inge Ulstein, Norwegian Minister of International Development and Bent Høie, Norwegian Minister of Health, delivered a welcome speech and launched the government’s new strategy with a video.
Norway's leadership efforts to act against non-communicable diseases (NCDs) through government policies was then congratulated by Tedros Ghebreyesus, Director of General WHO: Prevention and Control of NCDs. Thematic presentations, videos and appeals were delivered during the event and focused on diseases that are today's biggest killers, and how we can combat threats from climate and environmental risks to health with NCD agenda. Bente Mikkelsen, the Director of Non-Communicable Diseases in the division of UHC/Communicable & Noncommunicable Diseases at the WHO Headquarters presented a fantastic keynote speech on a strategy to beat NCDs - 'How to Move from Words to Action?'. A panel discussion moderated by Maria Neira emphasized the present and future global health challenges climate change, environment and NCDs. The panel included:
- Andrea Winkler, Director, Centre for Global health, UiO
- Katie Dain, CEO, NCD Alliance
- Omnia El Omrani, Egyptian medical student and representative of the International Federation of Medical Students’ Association (IFMSA)
- Mamka Anyona, Health Specialist NCDs, UNICEF
- Tiy Chung, Communications Officer, Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC)
The discussion focused on actions towards saving lives, helping healthcare and economic growth in developing countries as well as strategies to upscale the amount of aid towards combating NCDs.
Dr. Tore Godal, recipient of the King’s Medal of Merit from Norway and guest of honor, held a speech reminiscing on his personal experiences in the field and how this can be translated and used as evidence for moving forward with Norway’s new NCD strategy. Dag-Inge Ulstein gave the closing remarks for the event and the ceremony closed with a musical performance by Lukas Claude.
Live stream of the event here.
Some of the key facts mentioned in the event related to NCDs:
- Non-communicable diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, respiratory disease, diabetes, and mental health disorders, cause more than 70% of all deaths worldwide.
- Key risk factors include tobacco use, air pollution, harmful alcohol use, lack of physical activity and unhealthy diets with too much salt, sugar, and trans-fat/saturated fat.
- The proportion of NCD-related deaths before the age of 70 and the fastest rate of increase in overall NCD mortality is highest in low-and middle-income countries.
- Only 1-2 percent of the world's total health-related development assistance goes towards combating NCDs
The Norwegian Governments Strategy
The strategy, "Better health, Better lives", aims to contribute to reducing premature deaths from NCDs in low-income countries by a third by 2030 (SDG 3.4), and to improve people's health through the life-course. It prioritizes efforts to strengthen primary healthcare, prevent diseases through the reduction of NCD risk factors and foster clean, enabling environments for a healthy lifestyle. There is a concentration on risk factors contributing to deaths and illnesses in developing countries such as tobacco, air pollution, and unhealthy diets. Measures related to Norway's priority areas of development emphasizes on health, education, sustainable food systems, climate and environment, renewable energy, disabilities, digitalization, and good governance.
Full summary of the new strategy can be found here.