Norwegian Public Health Act – Norway


The new Public Health Act strategy was introduced in Norway 1 January 2012. The purpose of this Act is to contribute to societal development that promotes public health and reduces social inequalities in health. Public health work shall promote the population’s health, well-being and good social and environmental conditions, and contribute to the prevention of mental and somatic illnesses, disorders or injuries. The Act establishes a new foundation for strengthening systematic public health work in the development of policies and planning for societal development based on regional and local challenges and needs. The Act provides a broad basis for the coordination of public health work horizontally across various sectors and actors and vertically between authorities at local, regional and national level. Only by integrating health and its social determinants as an aspect of all social and welfare development through intersectoral action, can good and equitable public health be achieved. One of the main features of the Act is that it places responsibility for public health work is as a whole-of-government and a whole-of-municipality responsibility rather than a responsibility for the health sector alone. In public health work the municipalities must involve all sectors for the promotion of public health, not just the health sector.

Each municipality shall implement the measures that are necessary for meeting the municipality’s public health challenges. This may, for example, encompass measures relating to childhood environments and living conditions, such as housing, education, employment and income, physical and social environments, physical activity, nutrition, injuries and accidents, tobacco use, alcohol use and use of other psychoactive substances. The counties (19 altogether) have the responsibility for supervising the municipalities´ adherence to the law. The Ministry of Health and Care services will conduct inspections with both counties and municipalities to check if they have executed according to the Act and the health overview standards. Evaluation showed that “the participants do not consider the health sector to be the most important sector in the health promotion work. It also deviates from these studies with regard to the broad and partly extensive participation from all sectors. This corresponds with the basic idea of HiAP and the importance of SDH and the policy behind the Public Health Act. The participants regard the Public Health Act as a helpful tool for systematic, inter-sectoral health promotion work in the municipality.”

Additional information:   (last accessed in March 2017)

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Life Cycle Stages: Whole life cycle | 
Main Settings: public | 
Specific Topics: interdisciplinary coordination of public health activities | nutrition | substance abuse | 

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