Economic Inequality Impacting Health Care in Iceland Skip to content

Economic Inequality Impacting Health Care in Iceland

By Steindor Gretar Jonsson

Director of Health Alma Möller
Photo: Directorate of Health. Alma Möller.

According to Director of Health, Alma Möller, Icelandic authorities must tackle economic inequality, as it affects health care outcomes.

In an interview with Heimildin this weekend, Alma said that even if most people imagine there to be equality when it comes to health care in Iceland, the reality is different. “People with an economic disadvantage are more likely to have long-term illnesses that can greatly impact their quality of life and shorten it,” she said.

She added that improving the health of the poor is a task that the health care system can not accomplish alone. “Authorities need to make equality a priority and society as a whole needs to work together,” she said. “Because inequality affects us all.”

Inherited poverty

The Directorate of Health is a government agency that promotes high-quality and safe health care for the people of Iceland, health promotion, and effective disease prevention measures. Alma, the first woman to serve as Director, is therefore a key voice on health care policy in Iceland.

“We need to face this issue and start with the children,” she said. “Nothing is more valuable for communities than to keep children out of poverty. If people start their lives in a tough spot, it’s hard for them to recover. We need to create conditions in society so that people have the opportunity to live a healthy life. Poverty, in fact, is something that people inherit, much like trauma.”

Excess outsourcing

Alma is an anaesthetist and intensive care physician who turned her attention to public health. She became Director in 2018 and was a leading figure during the Covid-19 pandemic.

In the interview, she went on to warn against excess outsourcing of health care services to private companies that could weaken the core competencies of the Landspítali, The National University Hospital of Iceland. “Decisions on outsourcing must always be made on the basis of patient welfare and the common good,” she said.

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