Nordic Public Health Preparedness
The activities of the Svalbard Group are based on the Nordic Public Health Preparedness Agreement, which was established and concluded in 2002.
The members of the Svalbard Group are representatives from the Danish, Finnish, Icelandic, Norwegian, and Swedish governments, as well as from the autonomous territories of the Faroe Islands, Greenland, and Åland.
The purpose of the Nordic Public Health Preparedness Agreement is, as described in Article 2, to serve as a basis for co-operation between the Nordic countries in the preparation and development of public health preparedness in order to deal with crises and disasters, including natural disasters and incidents (accidents and terrorism) involving radiation, and biological and chemical agents.
As described in Article 3, the Agreement applies to co-operation between the competent public health (and social services) authorities.
As described in Article 4 of the Agreement, the Nordic countries undertake to:
- upon request, provide assistance to one another as they are able under the provisions of this agreement,
- inform each other as soon as possible of measures they are planning to implement or are implementing that may be of significance to the other Nordic countries,
- promote co-operation under this Agreement in national legislation, regulations, and other rules of law, and to remove barriers to such co-operation as much as possible,
- promote the sharing of experiences and co-operate on the development of skills,
- work to develop co-operation in this area,
- keep each other informed of relevant changes in the countries’ preparedness arrangements, including legislative amendments.
General principles for the activities of the Nordic Group for Public Health Preparedness (the Svalbard Group)
Purpose and tasks
The Svalbard Group’s mandate comes from the Nordic Council of Ministers for Health and Social Affairs (MR-S) and is based on the Nordic Public Health Preparedness Agreement.
The activities of the Svalbard Group are based on concepts and definitions in the fields of emergency planning, crisis and risk management, risk reduction, risk assessment, risk analysis, risk evaluation, prevention, emergency response, reconstruction, and evaluation.
The Group works according to an holistic approach to emergency planning and response (all-hazards approach).
The Group is a co-operative body for the authorities that are party to the Nordic Public Health Preparedness Agreement. The purpose of the Group is to improve co-operation and to share information, skills, and knowledge across the Nordic Region in the field of public health and social services in relation to emergency preparedness, and crisis and disaster management with the objective of being able to better manage crises and disasters.
Co-operation between the authorities can all include all phases and aspects of a crisis or disaster event.
The possible activities of the Group include emergency planning, as well as assistance should one of the countries be affected by a crisis or disaster. The Group may also share experiences and knowledge about radiation, the storage of rare vaccines, immunoglobulins, and antidotes.
Management and organisation
The country that holds the presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers also holds the presidency of the Svalbard Group. The presidency manages the Group’s activities and organises an annual conference on Nordic public health preparedness. The term of the presidency is usually one year.
The Group shall prepare a strategic framework for the coming years. The strategic framework must be approved by the Committee of Senior Officials for Health and Social Affairs (EK-S). The same is for any major amendment to the approved strategic framework proposed by the Svalbard Group.
Every year, the Group will collectively adopt an action plan for the following year based on the strategic framework.
The presidency is responsible for managing the Group’s activities and for providing the relevant documentation in this regard.
The Group has one to two members from each country and autonomous territory, appointed by the respective countries and territories.
Other experts and/or partners may participate in the Group’s work if necessary.
One representative from the Secretariat to the Nordic Council of Ministers may participate as an observer at the Group’s meetings, as well as one representative from the ministries concerned, if these are not represented in the Group.
The Group meets as needed, but no less than twice per year during each presidency term.
Contact information for each country can be found (in Swedish) at www.nordhels.org. Each country is responsible for keeping its information up to date.
The Svalbard Group’s activities are based on a strategic framework and action plan for the year (see above).
In accordance with Article 5 of the Nordic Public Health Preparedness Agreement, the Svalbard Group will prepare a report on its activities in the previous year. The report will be submitted to the Nordic Council of Ministers. Activities that fall outside of Article 5 will also be noted.
The country holding the presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers will then assume responsibility for the continued assessment of the report and for presenting this assessment at the meeting of the Committee of Senior Officials for Health and Social Affairs (EK-S).
Each country is responsible for its own costs arising in connection with its participation in the Svalbard Group’s activities.
This mandate is valid until further notice.