Published: 16-10-2023 15:04 | Updated: 26-02-2024 15:05

Many routes to better health for the world’s children

Tobias Alfvén researches to improve the health of the world’s children. His research ranges from studies on clinical improvements to organisational issues on how to conduct development collaborations in society.

Professor Tobias Alfvén. Photo: Erik Flyg.

What are you researching?

“I’m professor of global child health and researching how we can help children around the world, particularly those living in poor contexts, to thrive and grow.

The research is done in teams, partly under the Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Health, which is a collaboration between Karolinska Institutet and Makerere University that I co-chair.”

How are you approaching this broad subject?

“Based on the United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals we identify threats to children’s health around the world and how they’re linked to other global goals concerning for example poverty, education and environment. Our research covers subjects from system issues to concrete clinical improvement.

One of the system issues we study is how decision-makers, researchers, civil society and the private sector better can interact to successfully work on development issues.

Our clinical research concerns for example new methods of distinguishing between viral and bacterial pneumonia. It would be a great benefit to the care of children in both rich and poor countries to more easily know when antibiotics are needed or not. We’re also researching alternative techniques for saving newborn babies with asphyxia, using laryngeal mask. It’s a type of face mask which can facilitate respiratory support.”

What next?

“Our collaborations with other disciplines are fruitful and have led, amongst other things, to a high-profile review of how climate change affects children’s health. Broadening and deepening such collaborations with climatologists, political scientists and other specialists will be important to us going forward.”

Text: Anders Nilsson, in translation from Swedish
First published in the booklet ‘From Cell to Society 2023’

About Tobias Alfvén

Professor of Global Child Health at the Department of Global Public Health

Tobias Alfvén was born in Stockholm in 1972. He graduated with a medical degree from Karolinska Institutet in 2000 and holds bachelor’s degrees in business administration and political science from Stockholm University. He earned his PhD from Karolinska Institutet in 2002.

Clinically, Tobias Alfvén has mainly worked at the Sachsska Children’s Hospital, where he is currently consultant at the emergency department. He also worked for the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) between 2005 and 2007 and again between 2010 and 2013. He was made docent and specialist in paediatric medicine in 2017.

Tobias Alfvén was appointed Professor of Global Child Health at Karolinska Institutet on 28 November 2022.

Vew a video