Opening of Northern Future Forum 2018

Speech by Prime Minister Erna Solberg at the opening session of Northern Future Forum in Oslo 30 October 2018.

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Prime Ministers, Ministers, ladies and gentlemen,

A warm welcome to all of you to Oslo and to the Northern Future Forum 2018.

I have invited you here to discuss health technology, and to explore how this technology can be used to build more patient-centred health-care systems. 

And what better place to discuss this topic than here, at the Oslo Cancer Cluster. 

I had the honour of opening Oslo Cancer Cluster Innovation Park in 2015. The Innovation Park brings together the recently rebuilt Ullern Upper Secondary School, researchers from the Norwegian Radium Hospital and Oslo University Hospital, and health-related companies. In other words, it brings research, innovation and business into the classrooms, and young people from the school into the laboratories. 

This provides exceptional opportunities for interaction between scientists, business professionals and young people, which could in turn lead to crucial health-related innovations. Innovations that could be of vital importance in our future health-care systems.

In recent decades, medical and technological progress and innovations have increased life expectancy and greatly improved quality of life in all our nine countries.

However, this development has also created the challenge of an aging population.

Longevity is of course a good thing, and elderly people are healthier than ever before. But the burden of care has increased, while we, as governments, are striving to maintain our welfare systems at the present level.

New technology has made it possible for us to move the main point of care from the hospital or the doctor's office, to the patient’s home. Used wisely, health technology can be a useful and effective tool for health-care systems and patients alike.

In order for our countries to maintain and further develop sustainable health-care services, we should aim to make the most of the new technology available to us. At the same time, we must ensure that we are providing safe and equitable services.

New health technology must take the patient’s needs as the starting point.

We need to harness the potential of new technology even if this means developing new skills, new ways of delivering services and new forms of cooperation.

Sharing knowledge, experience and expertise is an excellent way of finding sustainable solutions to shared challenges.

By joining forces on public procurement, we may also be able to develop valuable innovations. Similarly, cross-border cooperation can give us access to a larger test area for new health technology. This in turn can promote an efficient, sustainable and innovative technology sector, to the benefit of the patient.

The challenges our societies are facing give us an incentive to develop new solutions to our problems and a more patient-centred health care service. This could also increase market potential for our health-tech industries, and create jobs, export potential, and income.

Health technology can also make an important contribution to our common efforts to reach UN Sustainable Development Goal 3 on ensuring good health and well-being for all. 

It is a great pleasure for me to declare the Northern Future Forum open. I look forward to hearing your insights on health technology and the many possibilities it offers.