Health and welfare

Who is responsible for our health?

In the past, it was often thought that the national public health service was responsibility for the health of all patients. In recent years it has become more common to think that we have a major responsibility for our health. The lifestyle we choose affects our health. The public health service is responsible for providing advice and guidance, but it is our responsibility to follow this advice. Nowadays, it is easy to find information on how to prevent different diseases and different ways to treat them. In addition to information that can be found online, brochures are also available at doctors’ offices and chemist’s shops.

Much information and education is given on the health theme. Health is an important topic in schools and the government produces various public health information campaigns. TV and radio programmes also discuss the topic of health.

Even though the welfare state assumes much responsibility for ensuring the population’s good health, in many instances it is also up to the individual to live his or her life in the healthiest way possible. In many countries, patients are used to viewing doctors as an absolute authority who determines the treatment to be followed. Patients may also be accustomed to never leaving the doctor’s office without a prescription in hand. In Norway it is customary for patients and doctors to discuss the different options for treatment and follow-up.

Good health – more than the absence of illness?

Some people believe that good health means an absence of disease. Others believe that good health means that the person has a good, satisfying life.

Both definitions of good health are equally correct. In societies where serious diseases and poverty are part of everyday life, the first definition is most common. In other societies in which medicine for most illnesses is available and everyone has the possibility to receive the necessary medical assistance, many believe that good health is more than just being physically and psychologically healthy.


Financial arrangements

In a welfare state, the goal is for the entire population to live a good a life as possible. This includes good health.

The welfare state takes responsibility for providing health services for inhabitants and ensuring that everyone receives the treatment they need, regardless of their financial position. There are a number of financial arrangements that provide for this.

Obligation of confidentiality

Everyone working in the health care sector has a legal duty to keep information confidential. This means that they cannot provide information on patients to anyone else without the permission of the patient.