Global Health

Norway plays a leading role in efforts to promote global health. Improving the health of the world’s population is essential for reducing poverty.

Working to meet the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) on reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, and combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, is one of Norway’s top priorities. Ensuring that children are vaccinated against common infectious diseases is another priority. The deadline for the MDGs is 2015. Norway is taking an active part in the development of a set of post-2015 global sustainable development goals.   

Bangladesh - national  immunisation programme.  Gavi The Vaccine Alliance
Bangladesh - national immunisation programme. Credit: Gavi The Vaccine Alliance

Primary health care services, health education, access to medicines, research, and governance must all be improved if we are to meet our global development goals. 

The global health workforce crisis

Some 1 billion people do not have access to professional health care. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that that there is a shortfall of nearly 4.3 million health workers worldwide, primarily in poor countries. The world will not be able to meet the MDGs relating to health if it is unable to ensure access to qualified health workers. The Ebola outbreak in West Africa demonstrated the consequences of weak healthcare systems and inadequate capacity. Norway plays an active role in efforts to address the global health workforce crisis.       

In order to build and maintain a national health system, countries need to have the capacity to train health workers of all categories and to gather information about the population’s health. Only then can health disparities be reduced. Key partners for Norway in its global health efforts include Gavi (the Vaccine Alliance), the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and the World Bank.  

The active recruitment of health personnel by developed countries is draining the poorest countries of health workers. Many health workers migrate to work in richer countries where working conditions are better. In 2010, the WHO member states adopted the voluntary WHO Global Code of Practice on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel to address the negative effects of health worker migration.  A major effort is needed to encourage more countries to implement the Code. Living and working conditions for health workers in their home countries must also be improved.