NordForsk puts focus on health and welfare

NordForsk puts focus on health and welfare

Music wafts through the room. Groups of people are moving from place to place. Pierre Lafolie stands at the table and gets ready for a different kind of speed dating: He has six minutes to present the project known as the Nordic Trial Alliance.

“The health services of the future are dependent on research and development,” explains Pierre Lafolie, as he meets the gaze of those gathered around him. “The number of new innovations reaching Nordic patients is declining, but the Nordic Trial Alliance (NTA) is seeking to change this. We want to make it easier to carry out clinical trials in the Nordic countries,” explains the doctor, who works at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm. The listeners nod and ask questions. Everyone present is involved in one or more Nordic projects in the area of health and welfare. The speed dating session is taking place at the kick-off conference in Copenhagen for the new Sustainable Nordic Welfare Programme under the Nordic Council of Ministers.

New Nordic welfare solutions

The Sustainable Nordic Welfare Programme promotes new welfare solutions for people in the Nordic countries. It is a demanding task in a sector that is undergoing rapid change and facing rising expectations from the population. Dagfinn Høybråten, Secretary General of the Nordic Council of Ministers, believes there is great potential for cooperation in the health services field.

“I am inspired by what we have achieved in defence and security policy,” says Mr Høybråten. “Over just a few years, cooperation in that area has expanded in spite of national differences,” he says.

Defence cooperation as a model

In 2009, a report by the Norwegian Government presented 13 proposals for strengthening Nordic cooperation on defence and security.

“I would like to see a similar report showing the areas most ripe for cooperation within the Nordic health services,” says the secretary general. Bo Könberg, the former Swedish Minister of Health Care and Social Security and a well-known politician from the Liberal Party of Sweden, has already been asked to prepare the report, which should be completed by summer 2014.

Several NordForsk projects on health and welfareMaria Nilsson presents at conference for sustainable Nordic Welfare

NordForsk presented several of its research projects on health and welfare at the conference in Copenhagen. “We are now consolidating our ongoing and new research projects in the area of health and welfare,” says Maria Nilsson, a senior adviser at NordForsk. The overall programme is called the Nordic Joint Programme on Health and Welfare and includes the three-year pilot project Nordic Trial Alliance, which is now well underway.

Nordic Trial Alliance on track

Pierre Lafolie breathes a sigh of relief. It is difficult to explain a project as extensive as the NTA in just six minutes. “I think everyone understood that the objective of the NTA is to make it easier to conduct research that will lead to new treatments and medications beneficial to Nordic patients,” says Mr Lafolie. “To succeed, we need to expand Nordic research cooperation, develop similar rules for clinical research and have access to larger populations,” he continues. “Our health services will be diminished in the future if we do not succeed in establishing this cooperation.”

Text: Anne B. Heieraas
Images: NordForsk / Terje Heiestad

Main image: Dr. Pierre Lafolie presents Nordic Trial Alliance (NTA) in six minutes.
Image 1: Senior adviser Maria Nilsson at NordForsk presents a new research project regarding social inequality in health. The project is part of the Nordic Council of Ministers program for Sustainable Nordic Welfare and is part of the NordForsk research project portfolio.

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