Public health in focus during minister’s visit to KI
Lifestyles, the pandemic and dental care were some of the topics under discussion when Minister for Social Affairs and Public Health Jakob Forssmed visited Karolinska Institutet on 28 August, the same day as the autumn term kicked off.
“The minister for Social Affairs and Public Health, Jakob Forssmed, has a purview that covers an area of great importance to Karolinska Institutet,” says KI President Annika Östman Wernerson. “Today we had some interesting discussions with leading researchers from KI on children and adolescents, diet and exercise, dentist training and dental care, and global health.”
They managed to squeeze in four researcher dialogues during the 90-minute programme, and the minister was given several concrete proposals to think about.
Researcher Sissela Bergman Nutley and Professor Lisa Thorell argued for curricular revisions that take account of children’s cognitive development, and advocated an increase in resources for the school healthcare services, child and adolescent psychiatry (BUP), child welfare clinics (BVC) and research on screen-use and lifestyles among young people.
Assistant senior lecturer Jessica Norrbom spoke about the importance of physical activity and healthy eating, and expressed concerns that too many children and adolescents in Sweden don’t get enough exercise and eat too much unhealthy foods. Amongst her recommendations were the development of a national strategy for physical activity and healthy eating, including, for example, pro-health town planning and initiatives in schools.
Next followed an exploration of the challenges facing dental care, led by Bodil Lund, head of the Department of Dental Medicine. One of the matters she raised was the need for more money for the dentistry and dental hygienist programmes, which are under-financed and in danger of losing skilled personnel – and the serious implications this has for the future of the dentistry profession.
The visit concluded with a dialogue with Johan von Schreeb, director of KI’s Centre for Health Crises and Centre for Research on Health Care in Disasters, on global health and KI’s role during the coronavirus pandemic. Johan von Schreeb stressed how important it is for Sweden to have contingency plans in place so that it can respond swiftly and sensibly to the next crisis.
“It was a very engaged and lively meeting,” says Annika Östman Wernerson. “We concurred on many issues and both expressed a wish to continue the dialogue.”
Remit of the Minister for Social Affairs and Public Health
Jakob Forssmed has responsibility for several areas of relevance to Karolinska Institutet’s research and researchers. His portfolio covers public health policy, which includes health promotion and the prevention of mental illness and suicide. It also covers dental care, infectious disease control, antimicrobial resistance, health data, e-health, life science, global health and policies on alcohol, drugs, doping, tobacco and gambling.