Health & Family Welfare Minister Kaul Singh Thakur led a high level delegation of officials from the Department of Health & Family Welfare to Sweden for a Study visit to explore strengthening of partnerships between the State of Himachal and Swedish counterparts. The visit was on the invite of the University of Lund, Sweden.

University of Lund is the second largest university in Sweden with over thirty thousand students and is in partnership with a number of States in India for providing technical cooperation. The university is already in a tripartite agreement with the State to improve the health services for the adolescents and youth of the State. As part of the agreement the university has been training medics & para medics in Himachal in the districts of Mandi, Chamba and Shimla.

During the visit the delegation interacted with Swedish public officials both at National and Provincial level. The delegation also visited a number of health facilities including the Swedish Institute of Public Health, Institute of Communicable Disease, Primary health facilities and a Youth Clinic. The purpose of these field visits was to learn about the efficacy of various health services being run by the Swedish government for it’s citizens and in particular for the adolescent & young population.

The delegation met the Swedish Ambassador for Global Health, in the Ministry of External Affairs, Dr Anders Nordstrӧm who informed the minister about the International Training Programme being run by funds provided by the Govt of Sweden and various other initiatives of the Swedish government in areas of health. The visit was followed by talks with Swedish International Development Agency representatives, led by Dr. Isa Hӓstad, the Dy Director General SIDA.

During these visits Kaul Singh Thakur highlighted the achievements of the State of Himachal in areas of health and sought a deepening of relationship between the two sides in areas of health care. The Swedish side assured the Minister of proactive action on their part.

The delegation also met Dr Johan Carlsson, the Director General of the Swedish Institute for Communicable Disease Control as well as Dr Monica Idestrӧm, the Head of the unit for Coordination of HIV& STI Prevention, Sweden. Ideas regarding control of communicable diseases as well as STIs were discussed .The Swedish side briefed the minister on the on-going work on overuse of antibiotics. Minister offered that the State of Himachal would be willing to work on a project which could assess the use of antibiotics in the health systems in Himachal Pradesh.

The delegation also met representatives of Skӑne Regional Council in the city of Malmӧ, Sweden. The Swedish side was led by Birgitta Sӧdertun Chairperson for Public Health of Skane Regional Council (equivalent to the rank of State Health Minister). Head of Public Health, Ms Elisabeth Bengtsson was also present. Avenues of partnership between the two regional governments in areas of health were discussed.

The delegation also met the Vice Chancellor Lund University Prof. Per Eriksson. The progress of the existing agreement and avenues for future cooperation between the university and the State of Himachal were discussed.

Kaul Singh Thakur said that the visit was a success in terms of exchange of ideas and issues related to the health sector. He said that an analysis of good practices in Sweden would be made and efforts made to implement the same in the State of Himachal. The Minister was accompanied by the Principal Secretary Health and Mission Director, NRHM during the visit.

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Rahul Bhandari is Editor of TheNewsHimachal and has been part of the digital world for last 15 years.