Norway is generally regarded internationally as a very prosperous country with a well working health service and with an exellent state of health in the population. Unfortunately this is not the case. Norwegian citizens are generally sicker and has a lover mean length of life than those of most other western countries, including countries like Spain and Italy that are regarded as poorer than Norway.
At any time a greater percentage of Norwegians are in a state of disease and out of work due to that state that you can find in most other countries. Also Norway has the highest number of people permanently out of work and on welfare than any other country in the world.
No western country spend so much money upon the health and social care system as Norway. In spite of this the system is very poor, or virtually without value, in preventing and curing chronic disease and in preventing life threatening accute atteck of disease. The medical service is however fairly effective in saving the lives of people that get som kind of accute attack, like heart infarction and stroke, at least on a short term basis. People being victims of accidents, though, are not well served by the system, and Norway has a high death rate of accident offers.
Let us look at some particular areas. The following description is partly based on official statistics, but the author also uses his own observation of the situation as base for the description. The observations of the author seem to indicate that the total situation is worse that that told by the official statistics, both regarding frequency of disease and the outcome of treatment.
Norwegians have a higher frequency of cancers than most other European nations, including gynecological cancers, testicular cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer and colon cancer. Around 50% of Norwegians are likely to get a diagnosis of cancer some time and 30% of Norwegians will die from cancer, which means that the Norwegian health care system is not good at curing this disease group. In addition a great percentage of Norwegians suffer from chronic and often cripling side effects of the treatment from cancer. The frequency of cancer in Norway is rising, and at a higher rate than most other countries, and the percentage of Norwegian cancer patients that get cured, is not rising.
Norwegian also have a higher frequency of diseases in the heart and blood vessels than other countries, and the frequency is rising. Also around 50% of all Norwegians are likely to get a serious disease condition in the circulatory system, mostly of atherosclerotic type. The number of Norwegians dying from a accute heart infarction or stroke has however declined, even though the frequency of accute circulatory attacks have not gone down. This is due to a more effective treatment of accute circulatory attacks, the only area where the Norwegian health care system has improved in the latest years.
No population in the western world has poorer health condition in the musculoscheletal system than that of Norway. Most Norwegians more than 50 years old suffer from arthritis, osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia or another rheumatic condition, and debilitating rheumatic conditions like rheumatic arthritis or lupus erytematosus is common in even the young generations, and like cancers the frequency is on the rise. The Norwegian health care seldome manages to cure any rheumatic condition, but only lessen the symptoms and some of the consequencies by means of chemotherapy, analgesic medicine and surgeries. Many Norwegians also suffer from consequences of physical injuries, from physical wearing during work or sport, or from sport injuries.
As a consequence of these factors more than 50% of Norwegians are seriously deformed due to musculoscheletal conditions. Musculoscheletal deformities are also prevalent in the younger part of the population, including children.
Norwegians is perhaps the most allergic and asthmatic people in the world, and a great percentage of the young population suffers from serious allergic conditions, and allergy is getting steadily more common. You can see this development in the whole western world, but it is worse in Norway than any other western country.
Norwegians are also the most diabetic people in the whole western world. Diabetes is common in all age classes, and both diabetes type I and type II is on the rise in children and young people. You can see this in the whole western World, but also this tendency is at the worst in Norway.
Psychiatric diagnoses are extremely common in the Norwegian population, and equally common in children and teens as in the older generation. Norway has a higher persentage of children and teens set on drugs for ADHD or the like, than any other country in the world, and Norwegians consume more drugs against depression that any other population. Norwegians having got a psychiatric diagnosis seldome or never get rid of the diagnosis. Not all Norwegians having got such a diagnosis are suffering from any real psychiatric illness, since the Norwegian authorities tend to give persons having got economical or social difficulties a psychiatric diagnoses, either to controle their bahavior or have a reason to give them wellfare. Still depression at least is extremely common in Norway, and the suicide rate is high in the Norwegian society. Suicide is frightingly common among teens and young people in Norway. Also people taken care of by the psychiatric system seem to have a higher rate of suicide that those that this system does not manage to catch, which is thought provoking.
Over 50% of Norwegians are obese, and at least 25% are grossly obese, and have a reduced quality of life as a direct consequence of obesity. In addition the obesity is a major cause of other health problems in this country, including circulatory disease and cancer.
You often hear leaders of various countries saying: "Look to Norway", meaning that Norway is a country of success that all other countyries can learn from. Regarding health and healthcare, this is not true. But perhaps one should look to Norway to learn how things should not be done?
By Knut Holt