Norwegian commitment to global health
Child mortality, which had been constant at 12 million per year in the 1990s, was reduced by more than a third to 7.6 million in 2010 thanks to improved vaccination rates, and a dramatic improvement in malaria control and AIDS treatment and prevention. More than 300 million children in low-income countries have been vaccinated with vaccines they previously did not have access to. Deaths from measles have been reduced by over 90% in sub-Saharan Africa.
Over the past few years, enhanced efforts to improve maternal mortality have also showed positive impact. From hardly budging for decades, the number of maternal deaths has shown a significant decrease in the past couple of years.
And these are only some of the positive figures that are showing up in health statistics.
Political commitment and increased investment
Most of this progress has been achieved through stronger political commitments and increased health investments: partly as a side effect of economic growth (particularly among middle-income countries), and partly due to a deliberate scaling up of health investments mainly through aid.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Jonas Gahr-Støre indicated that in absolute terms, the increases have been modest:
- A single-digit billion dollar investment per year spread over nearly 150 countries. The fact that this funding has caused such a dramatic leap in lives saved shows just how cost-effective health investments are, Gahr-Støre said.
Women, youth and children face particular health risks due to lack of empowerment and control over their own bodies, and many do not have access to education or health care. Malaria, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis remain serious health problems.
Health for all
The Norwegian government’s intention is to promote a policy of health for all. There are several key factors, which are highlighted in the resent Report to the Storting (white paper) Link til websiden om Stortingsmeldingen.
- Prevention – including access to clean water, safe food and correct nutrition, good sanitation, vaccination and knowledge about how to promote good health and avoid disease – is one such factor.
- Reducing social inequalities in health – through a general reduction of economic and social disparities, both between and within countries, and by securing universal access to essential health services through the establishment of good public health systems – is also a central concern.
- National ownership and control must be safeguarded in order to ensure that health cooperation is based on national priorities and on systems that produce real gains in health.
- Transparency, good governance and zero tolerance for corruption are crucial.
Today, Norway is highly visible in the field of global health, not only in terms of financial contributions as a percentage of GNI, but also in terms of health diplomacy and political mobilization (link til SMKs sider). Norwegian efforts to integrate health in foreign and development policy are particularly directed towards child and maternal health care and prevention and treatment of communicable disease like HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. Strengthening health systems, managing pandemics and addressing the health workforce crisis, protecting and promoting sexual and reproductive health and rights, supporting global health research and knowledge development, and the fight against female genital mutilation are also important priorities.
The Norwegian government will continue to build on achievements made through a carefully targeted policy on global health, focusing on the areas where Norway can make a real difference.