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Health and Social Policies in Sweden Caitlin Smith.

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1 Health and Social Policies in Sweden Caitlin Smith

2 Stockholm, Sweden The course is a two week look at the Swedish Health and Social Welfare system. It included 12 Professional Appointments with health professionals and government officials around Stockholm, Sweden with 2 additional appointments in Uppsala, Sweden. Central Stockholm

3 Personal Goals Going into the course I hoped to learn what health means in Sweden. Why is their system so much more financially effective than the US with health outcomes that rank among the top in the world? I went into this experience with an open view. The US is struggling to put together the pieces of an efficient health system - the view of another countries successes can provide an insight into current US problems and possible solutions. I hoped to not only broaden my own perspective, but to use my experience to teach and enlighten others.

4 Introduction to Sweden Sweden is a Scandinavian Country in Northern Europe. Total population is about 9.3 million (with about 2.2 million in the greater Stockholm area). Students stayed in a hotel in the middle of Stockholm’s financial and commercial district with easy access to the local transportation and many sites of cultural interest. Professional appointments were located throughout the greater Stockholm area, they included the following locations: hospitals, physician practices, and different government facilities among others.

5 Challenges in Sweden Health Care Many of the current health challenges are similar to those in the US: –Controlling health costs –Improving health inequalities –Recruiting health care staff –Providing care to a more diverse population Another large challenge is the debate over private versus public ownership of health practices given that they system is totally funded by the government.

6 Lessons Learned Just like the US, Sweden health care has many challenges, but, the even with a Universal Health System, Sweden’s spending in 2011 was only 8.9% of Sweden’s GDP (whereas the health care spending in the US was 17% of the GDP). Health care is mostly accessible and affordable to all of Sweden’s citizens (these are two major issues for millions of US citizens). Health outcomes such as cancer mortality, infant mortality, and ischemic heart disease are all worse for US citizens even though the US spends around $8,175 per person versus Sweden’s expenditures of around $3,703. Sweden has been able to successfully manage population health needs in many areas where the US is falling far behind.

7 Conclusions The opportunity to have conversations with individuals in both the social and health sectors really provides a unique perspective to health care. Beyond the health statistics, there is a very comprehensive health and social system that really works for the country. Overall, the health and social system act collectively as a support for all of Sweden’s citizens ensuring that each person has the foundation necessary to contribute to a successful society.

8 Most Profound Clinical Experience As a future health leader, I learned so much about the changing health care environment – learning about a country with some of the highest health outcomes (and lowest costs) is a great insight into some of the challenges and questions we need to ask going forward. The course really challenges students to think outside the US health care system and view health from a new perspective. This course is probably the only opportunity to have one on one conversations with individuals to really understand another health care system and to understand that the US health system has a lot to learn from other health models.

9 Most Profound Cultural Experience Not only does the system support the positive health outcomes, but the culture is also a clear indication why individuals are healthier. –The city centers all had outdoor markets with fresh fruits and vegetables. –Many individuals bike and walk in the Stockholm area and the structure is in place for individuals to maintain an active lifestyle. –Healthy lifestyles are supported from an early age with guidance on infant care and the proper nutritional support for children in schools.

10 Key Takeaways The main lesson learned was that health is so much more than care during times of sickness. Is it about socially providing the framework necessary to support a healthy lifestyle to all citizens and providing care in a dignified way. In Sweden, the health system focuses on the mission “Health care on equal terms.” It is clear to see this played out in the country and it is even more clear the profound impact is has on the happiness and well-being of society.

11 Photos Vasa Museum Hotel Riddargatan Library Sandhamn Island in the Archipelagos Gamla Stan (The Old Town)

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