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HEALTH

VERDICT: How well did Norway handle the Covid-19 pandemic?

Norway’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic was given an overall positive scorecard in an official commission report published on Tuesday.

covid vaccination
An unrelated illustration photo of Covid-19 vaccination. Norway's Corona Commission has released its final report on the country's response to Covid-19. Photo: Claus Bech / Ritzau Scanpix / AFP

The Corona Commission, appointed to scrutinise the response of authorities and health services, on Tuesday published its final report on the country’s management of the pandemic.

The commission concluded that Norway’s response to the pandemic was generally good. The report notes that the Scandinavian country has one of the lowest Covid-19 death rates in Europe and limited the impact of the virus on economic activity.

Several individuals made far greater contributions than could have been expected, it also said.

“In the health service, state administration, municipalities and at several companies, an impressive flexibility and ability to adapt was demonstrated,” the report states.

Some criticism is included in the report. Authorities were not adequately prepared to deal with a pandemic of the magnitude Covid-19 proved to be.

The pandemic caused severe strain on a number of ICU wards at times and doctors’ services in local municipalities were poorly equipped, the report said.

“ICU preparedness at hospitals was not good enough,” the report states.

The commission meanwhile pointed out the vaccination programme as a successful element of the response but said the government should have been quicker to take the step of distributing more vaccines to areas with higher Covid-19 prevalence.

A broad range of areas are covered by the report, including its consequences for children and young people, which were found to be excessive.

Authorities failed to do enough to protect children from some of the effects of restrictions, despite this being a government objective.

“To put it a little simply, we can say that children and young people are worse affected by restrictions than by infections and that there is a difference between what you miss out on over a year when you are 16 compared to when you are 46,” the report states.

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HEALTH

Norway announces review to tackle ‘crisis’ in GP system

Norway’s government has tasked an expert committee to devise measures to improve the current GP system.

Norway announces review to tackle 'crisis' in GP system

More than 175,000 residents are currently without a GP in Norway, the government said in a statement on Thursday as it announced a broad-ranging expert review of national GP services. 

The objective of the expert committee will be to provide specific recommendations on how the GP system can be improved so that all residents have a permanent GP. The system should also be made sustainable, the government statement said.

“The current action plan (to improve the GP system) has several good measures, but they have not had the desired effect. So we have to think again, and we have to take new measures. We cannot continue on the same track and hope that the situation will resolve itself over time,” Minister of Health and Care Ingvild Kjerkol said in the statement. 

Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre said next year’s budget would include more funding for the GP scheme. 

“We are working in top gear to find solutions for the GP system and take the crisis with the utmost seriousness,” Støre said.

Part of the expert committee’s work will be to develop proposals for how the GP system should be funded and organised.

Problems faced by the national GP service are mounting, the government recognised in the statement. These include a lack of young doctors signing up to the GP programme, high workloads for existing GPs and recruitment problems at municipal level.

Being left on a GP waiting system and struggling to get an appointment were two common issues mentioned by The Local’s readers in a recent survey on the Norwegian healthcare system.

READ MORE: What do foreigners think of the Norwegian healthcare system?

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