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Inspiring partnership of Lithuania and Norway - when common goals unite

Every country is unique and has to search for its own ways and solutions when dealing with sensitive public health issues; however, it is worth learning from the best and most advanced examples. Therefore, we turn to highly experienced Norway that willingly shares its experience.

This year the representatives of the Municipalities of Pasvalys, Plungė and Alytus, the Lithuanian University of Health Sciences and the Institute of Hygiene visited various places in Norway in order to get acquainted with the organization of health care services for young people, examples of children’s health monitoring, experience in monitoring and reducing health inequalities and to find partners. The visits were financed from the Bilateral Cooperation Fund under the Programme No. LT11 “Public Health Initiatives” of the Norwegian Financial Mechanism 2009-2014.

Certificate of honour to Drangedal Kommune for the cooperation and development of relationships with Lithuania

The representatives of Pasvalys District Municipality Administration and Pasvalys Primary Health Care Centre during their visit to Drangedal had an opportunity to learn about the organization of health care services for young people in Norway, applicable preventive measures and inter-agency cooperation examples. During the visit the participants met with Drangedal’s politicians and representatives of the Kommune who are responsible for health care issues, visited institutions that provide health care services, participated in the discussions about health care of children and young people, health care problems and shared best practices.

During the visit the delegation from Pasvalys met with Honorary Consul of Lithuania Dr. Carl Thomas Carlsten in Telemark County. Honorary Consul was glad that bilateral relations with Lithuania are being developed and joint projects are going to be implemented. The Honorary Consul handed Certificate of honour to Drangedal Kommune for its cooperation and development of relationships with Lithuania and Pasvalys District Municipality.

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At school teenagers feel like home

In Norway the representatives of Plungė District Municipality also met with the representatives of Bjerkreim Kommune and other institutions experienced in the provision of youth-friendly health care services. The meetings and discussions were held in Bjerkreim, Egersund, Time (Bryne) Kommunes, Health and Mental Health Centres, family clinics, sports facilities and Vikeså school.

“The fact that at school children feel equal with teachers and safe like home caught our eyes. Particular attention is paid to extra curricula activities and especially to physical activity. This is understood as an integral part of the learning process, and pupils have all necessary conditions for an active and healthy lifestyle,” Municipal Doctor Oresta Gerulskienė working in Plungė District Municipality shared her impressions about the teenagers’ health care in Norway. “The 8th-graders learn about communicable diseases, sexual health and sexual orientation, mental health, nutrition, smoking. The 9th graders attend classes about sexual education, mental health and awareness of their bodies. At school a health care specialist is available for any child at any time: a pupil can contact him/her even by phone after working hours as he/she is simply a friend and a counsellor of children at Vikeså school.“

The importance of a regular communication with young people, promotion of healthy nutrition and physical activity was emphasized at the meeting with the representatives of the Mental Health Centre.

During the visit the participants also learnt about the inter-agency communication example: in Norway, nurses, midwives, physiotherapists, if necessary, psychologists and social educators provide their services to teenagers at Health Centres. There is a regular communication and consultation with a family doctor, pedagogical and psychological agency, schools, kindergartens, Mental Health Centre, etc.

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Benefits of cooperation between specialists of health and social security

During the visit to Norway the representatives of Alytus Town Municipality, clinics and Public Health Care Bureau met with representatives of Lyngdal Kommune. “We have much to learn from Norwegians: health care problems of young people which are relevant in our country had been solved in Norway long time ago,” Vilmantas Pajada, Chief Specialist of the Department of Investment Projects of Alytus Town Municipality, said.

“Norwegians pay particular attention to the growth and development of a person in the first 20 years of his/her life. It may seem a very long period of time; however, that is exactly how long it takes to get ready for an independent life. Therefore, social and health security systems are closely interconnected and local governments play a very important role in passing decisions,” Head of the Children and Teenagers’ Health Department at Lyngdal Kommune Karen E. Lind said. She emphasized that the Kommune provides preventive health care services for children and young people and thereby it is also engaged in the activities related to social development aspects. Usually, this is done through questionnaires of public authorities when in evaluation of the data the main problems of a certain age group arising from a family, school or leisure environment are identified. This practice could be successfully applied in the Lithuanian municipalities as well. Further cooperation of health and social security specialists as well as partnership possibilities during the implementation of the project were discussed at the meetings.

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Development of the child health monitoring information system

In October 2014, the representatives of the Institute of Hygiene went to Norway to learn about the children’s health monitoring activities under the project “Development and Implementation of the Child Health Monitoring Information System for Systematic Monitoring of the Children’s Health Condition and Purposeful Health Policy Making”.

At the meetings the representatives of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Norwegian Directorate of Health, Norwegian Directorate for Children, Youth and Family Affairs and the NOVA Research Institute shared their best practice: discussed the existing routine health check-ups for children in Norway and frequency thereof, content of the reports on children’s health to be completed during these check-ups, indicators, application thereof at local, regional and national levels. The principle questions that arise in the course of developing the national child health monitoring information system in Lithuania were answered.

The established contacts and consent to further cooperation made it possible to consult the Norwegian professionals not only in the children’s health monitoring area, but also in the course of monitoring the health of other groups of the population.

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Norway shared its experience in identifying and reducing health inequalities

Under the project “Development of the Model for Strengthening the Capacities to Identify and Reduce Health Inequalities” the representatives of the Lithuanian University of Health Sciences and the Institute of Hygiene attended the Conference of the Norwegian Healthy Cities Network in Lillehammer. “The participation in the Conference was useful as we could take a closer look at how communities in Norway join various health promoting activities, how such processes are handled, what experience could be applied when dealing with the problem of health inequalities at a regional level,” Mindaugas Stankūnas, Professor at the Health Management Department of the Lithuanian University of Health Sciences, told. “In Oslo there was a meeting with the representatives of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health and the NOVA Research Centre. We mainly looked at the Norwegian experience in organizing and implementing the monitoring of health and health inequalities. The gained experience is useful for the development of the guidelines for reducing health inequalities.”

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Last updated: 12-06-2016