Global health crisis calls for Nordic co-operation

08.09.20 | News
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Photographer
Scanpix.dk
The reopening of the Nordic countries may be in full swing, but unfortunately COVID-19 is not yet behind us. The Nordic health ministers are now looking at ways of enhancing Nordic co-operation on the management of both the current pandemic and any future health crises.

“It is important that the Nordic health ministers agree on the need for closer co-operation on issues such as supply-chain security and medicines. Some of our countries are facing similar challenges due to new outbreaks as summer draws to a close. Sharing with each other what we have learned will help the national agencies working to contain COVID-19,” says Magnus Heunicke, Danish Minister for Health and the Elderly. All of the Nordic countries still face challenges, especially in dealing with vulnerable groups such as old people living alone and socially disadvantaged people. However, it is clear that the pandemic has implications for all social groups – including young people. In particular, the ministers expressed concern about super-spreader events, i.e. large social gatherings (house parties, raves, etc.) and big cultural and sporting events.

Test, trace, isolate 

Testing, tracing and isolating are the most important tools in the Nordic countries’ arsenal to combat COVID-19. The ministers stressed that it is crucial to ensure that the necessary testing capacity is available. Kaj Leo Johannesen, Faroese Minister of Health, told colleagues that the Islands have so far carried out a number of tests equivalent to twice the population. However, according to the Faroese, smaller countries and islands may well be better placed to test widely and crack down quickly, but they are also vulnerable if local outbreaks do occur.

The Faroe Islands have so far carried out a number of tests equivalent to twice the population.

Kaj Leo Holm Johannesen, Minister of Health, the Faroe Islands.
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Photographer
norden.org

Sharing with each other what we have learned will help the national agencies working to contain COVID-19

The Danish Minister of Health, Magnus Heunicke

A natural platform for co-operation 

The ministers agreed that in future there should be a joint Nordic focus on security of supplies, e.g. of medicines, but they also expressed a more general wish to work together across the whole of the health sector, a sentiment welcomed by Paula Lehtomäki, Secretary General of the Nordic Council of Ministers.

“It is crucial that the Nordic countries learn from each other and the Nordic Council of Ministers is a natural platform for this. We provide the ministers with an opportunity to discuss challenges and experiences and look at shared solutions in health and other policy areas.”