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Unique course in Sweden for improved public health

Public health demands sustainable development and the University of Gävle is now educating public health strategists who are going to be involved in developing a sustainable society with the focus on public health.

The focus of the programme

Public health is usually described as the overall health of a population and is measured using for example average life-expectancy, health as it is experienced first hand, self-perceived experience of safety and illness. The aim of public health work is to see that the whole population is given the same prerequisites for good health.

“There is no public health sciences course in Sweden at present that has this focus on sustainable development,” says Bodil Zacharoff, responsible for the course.

“With sustainable development in Sweden and around the world then we will achieve better health and that is the focus of the programme.”

Sustainable development

Sustainable development is about the long term preservation of clean water, soil and the rest of the ecosystem and a reduction of the negative effects on nature and people’s health.

Sustainability has three different dimensions:

  • Social sustainability –A society where basic human rights are realised
  • Ecological sustainability – Acting more responsibly with human and material resources in the long term
  • Economic sustainability – That everyone has the financial resources to satisfy their basic needs

“We will give the students the tools and knowledge to plan a sustainable process taking into account all these dimensions.

Everyone says they are going to work with sustainable development but very few know what sustainable development really is. Our students will be very capable to contribute something to society.”

Sought after competence

The course develops a strategic approach towards health promoting action for the sustainable development of the population at the collective and group levels.

Public health strategists and sustainability strategists are much in demand in today’s job market.

“The field of health is looking for someone who can do this, we know it has got to be done but how should we do it?

We work at a strategic level and on completion of the course the students should be able to find employment at different authorities and businesses in society and work towards sustainable development, nobody can do this today.”

Regional challenges

Emma Mårtensson, acting head of department at Public Health and sustainability Region Gävleborg, says that in the region in general the development is positive. We are on level with the country as a whole, we live longer and we are healthier.

But she sees worrying dissimilarities between different population groups, at the national level one can also see that inequalities in health have increased.

Other challenges that she mentions regard the potentials for children and young people. The fact is that we have a relatively high rate of child poverty and a large group that is not qualified for sixth-form college.

“We want to work for more equal health and give priority to the conditions of children and young people,” says Emma Mårtensson.

“We expect the newly qualified strategists from the University of Gävle to be competent and committed and able to utilize the sustainability perspective on the health issue.”

That they have methods for the issues: What are we doing? How do we make a difference?


For further information, please contact:
Bodil Zacharoff, faculty programme director for the programme Public Health Strategist for Sustainable Development, the University of Gävle.
Tel: 026-64 85 34, 073-460 65 39
Email: bodil.zacharoff@hig.se

Text: Douglas Öhrbom

Published by: Douglas Öhrbom Page responsible: Anders Munck Updated: 2016-06-01
Högskolan i Gävle
Box 801 76 GÄVLE
026-64 85 00 (växel)