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There is no top-level authority that is singularly responsible for ‘youth health’ but the Ministry of Health and Care Services is responsible for providing good and equal health and care services for the population, including young people. The ministry directs these services by means of legislation, annual budgetary allocations and through underlying agencies such as the Norwegian Directorate of Health and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health.
Everyone in Norway is entitled to essential medical and care services, including to be assigned a general practitioner (GP) in the municipality in which they live. Everyone is also entitled to essential mental health care and GPs can refer to more specialized services.
The Public Health Act stipulates that public health is a responsibility in all sectors, not only in the health sector, and at all levels of government, ie municipalities, county municipalities and state authorities. The Act imposes an obligation on the municipalities to take necessary measures to meet the municipality's public health challenges, including measures related to adolescence and young people’s health such as housing, education, work and income, physical and social environments, physical activity, nutrition, injuries and accidents, tobacco use and alcohol and other intoxicants.
The Norwegian Institute of Public Health monitors the development of public health prepares annual public health profiles for each municipality and county municipality. Furthermore, the Public Health Institute operates the Municipal Health Statistics Bank. The Public Health Institute and the Norwegian Directorate of Health develop tools and guidance for municipalities to implement the Public Health Act.
Local youth health stations and school health services are statutory services provided by the municipalities, designed to safeguard physical and mental health and provide health-promoting and preventative services for children and young people. The school health services are found in all primary schools, secondary schools and upper secondary schools and may consist of a health nurse, school physician, psychologist and physiotherapist or others. The school health service is responsible for vaccination and, in collaboration with the school, offers tuition for classes, groups and individual conversations. Youth Health Stations provide free and multidisciplinary services for young people up to the age of 20. The service can consist of a health nurse, doctor and psychologist, and is usually open in the afternoons.
Main non-public actors that take part in the development of youth health and well-being policies include:
The Norwegian Association of Youth with Disabilities [Unge Funksjonshemmede] - represents several member organizations for youth with different types of disabilities and chronic diseases.
Sex og samfunn - works for sexual and reproductive health and rights through clinical and educational activities, as well as through professional development and political lobbying.
Skeiv ungdom - member organization open to anyone under 30 (gay, bisexual, lesbian, trans and queer youth, and supporters) that works to ensure equal, legal rights and improve public services ‘queer’ youth.
Juvente Norway- is a youth organisation focused on drug prevention and public policies on substance abuse.
The Public Health Act stipulates that public health is a responsibility in all sectors, not only in the health sector. White Paper No. 19 (2018-2019) on Public Health [Folkehelsemeldinga: Gode liv i et trygt samfunn] which has a separate chapter on youth also emphasises public health work as important in all sectors and at all levels of government. In 2016 the Government launched a youth health strategy #Young people health – the Norwegian Government’s strategy for young people’s health 2016 – 2021 [#Ungdomshelse – regjeringens strategi for ungdomshelse 2016-2021] signed by seven ministries – the Ministry of Health and Care Services, the Ministry of Children and Families, the Ministry of Education and Research, the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, the Ministry of Justice and Public Security, the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Local Government and Modernisation.
The overall objectives of the strategy are:
All sectors of society must contribute to create good conditions for growing up, good mental and physical health and reduced social health inequalities.
Enhance accessibility to low-threshold healthcare, more interdisciplinary collaboration and good patient care in all parts of health and care services
The voice of youth and young adults must be heard in the design of services that affect them
Ensure accessible and high-quality services on digital platforms
Improved knowledge base on health, living conditions and health services for young people and young adults
The “0-24 cooperation” is a cross-sectoral initiative of the Directorate of Health, the Directorate for Children, Youth and Family Affairs, the Directorate of Labour and Welfare, the Directorate for Integration and Diversity and the Directorate for Education to support and strengthen necessary coordination and cooperation in counties and municipalities, for the benefit of vulnerable children and young people and their families.