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30th May 2013

Successful EEA and Norway Grants Conference - meeting potential partners

Representatives from nine beneficiary states across Europe who are implementing ‘Public Health Initiatives’ met potential Norwegian partners at a conference arranged by the Norwegian Directorate of Health and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, as part of the EEA and Norway Grants Initiative.

EØS midler konferanse.jpg
Widening health gaps, high levels of lifestyle-related diseases and an ageing population are some of the major health challenges in Europe. The EEA and Norway Grants are intended to reduce health inequalities by improving general public health in ten beneficiary states.

The purpose of this conference was to improve bilateral collaboration between the beneficiary states and Norway. The states that are implementing Public Health Initiatives are Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia and Cyprus (not present).

Some of the measures to improve public health in the beneficiary countries include: 

  • Reducing inequalities between user groups 
  • Preventing and reducing lifestyle diseases 
  • Improving mental health 
  • Preventing HIV/AIDS & TB 
  • Improving access to and quality of health services 
  • National health registries / health information systems
  • Improving health governance.

Julie Johansen, FHI
Julie Johansen, FHI
Jonas Gahr Støre, the Norwegian Minister of Health, opened the conference with a motivational speech about the unique opportunities within the initiative, by supporting identified needs in the 10 beneficiary states and the potential to nurture new ties through common projects.

Professor Martin Bobak from University College London gave the audience an excellent insight into the effects of society, lifestyle and the environment on public health in Europe. He explained how health interventions at a group level were more successful than on an individual level and that increasing social expenditure was necessary to narrow social inequalities. Good health surveillance and longitudinal studies are needed to monitor the effect of interventions.

Julie Johansen, FHI
Julie Johansen, FHI
Steinar Hagen, Director of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs spoke about the importance of strengthening bilateral collaboration with the beneficiary states for mutual learning and benefit.

Bjørn Guldvog, Director General of the Norwegian Directorate of Health and Camilla Stoltenberg, Director General of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health had a joint session that supported Professor Bobak’s recommendations for better health surveillance. Camilla Stoltenberg explained how integrated health information systems can be used to measure societal effects, causes of disease and the effects of treatment, with examples from Norway. She emphasised the need to balance any perceived threat to the individual of collecting health data against any actual threat to make sure that regulations protect privacy while promoting knowledge to improve health.

Anne Camilla Hilton and Andreas Aabel from the Financial Mechanism Office in Brussels gave the audience more information about becoming project partners.

After the presentations, representatives from the beneficiary countries had the opportunity to meet with potential collaborators from Norway to discuss project possibilities.