18 years of collaboration with WHO
“We are pleased with renewing our cooperation agreement with the WHO. We are now in our 18th year as a WHO Collaborating Centre within e-health and telemedicine,” says director Stein Olav Skrøvseth at the Norwegian Centre for E-health Research.
Stein Olav Skrøvseth and WHO coordinator at the centre, Lene Lundberg, believe that international cooperation in health issues is even more important than before.
The corona pandemic has made it clear that there is a need for continued investment in technology in health, and that proper systems must be developed and evaluated. Universal health coverage for all is a goal that has still not been reached.
This spring, Lene Lundberg took over as focal point for the collaboration, at E-health Research.
“We signed the new two-year agreement with WHO this autumn. Like everyone, we are affected by the corona situation, so we do not travel and we conduct fewer physical meetings than usual. But the research is going well and we will contribute new knowledge about how technology is useful for organizations and citizens,” says Lundberg.
The pandemic has pushed the health systems of many countries to the limit. In populous areas, hospitals face capacity squeeze and they have a critical shortage of health personnel. Many in the sector became dependant on using video conferencing to be able to talk to patients and colleagues and to follow up on patients.
To prevent the health service from collapsing, technology is needed that can help us detect and prevent spreading of infections. This is done, among other things, with electronic tracing and warning apps.
More important than ever
“We who work to acquire new scientific knowledge must look carefully at all aspects of technology use in the health service. It is clear that there is a lot we do not know the answer to. There are many ethical, social and legal challenges,” says Skrøvseth.
Yet they are optimistic.
“It is crucial that researchers and organizations collaborate internationally. We must solve the global challenges through global partnerships. A lot of good is done locally and nationally, and then you have to make sure that all this knowledge is shared across the board,” says Lundberg.
Started in 2002
The research hub for e-health was established in the 90s in Tromsø. From the beginning, the environment consisted of some passionate people at the University Hospital of North Norway who wanted to use technology to improve quality and efficiency in patient care.
The goal then, as now, is to investigate how technological solutions can provide better health and quality of life to people.
“From the beginning, Norwegian researchers and professionals have collaborated internationally. In the early days, a lot of attention was focused on Northwest Russia and the High North to improve health services through distance monitoring. Since then, there has been cooperation with countries in Africa and South America,” says Skrøvseth.
The centre signed its first agreement with the World Health Organization in 2002.
Benefit many member states
Clayton Hamilton is the coordinator for WHO’s Digital Health Flagship in the European region. He also underlines the importance of working together.
“Our collaborating centre agreement with the Norwegian Centre for E-health Research continues to yield extremely valuable outputs which benefit the 53 member states of the European region. They are an excellent partner to WHO and their expertise is highly valued. I can’t thank them, and the Norwegian government, enough for their unwavering support to implementing WHO’s digital health agenda,” says Hamilton.