Norway best in the world for mums: report

For the third year running, Norway has been named the best country in the world to be a mother.

Norway best in the world for mums: report
Getting the good news: Tove R Wang of Save the Children Norway and Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg (Photo: Terje Bendiksby/Scanpix)

The State of the World’s Mothers report, published for the 13th time by Save the Children, puts Norway at the top of a list of 165 countries.

”This shows that Norway’s policies for equality, children and the family work in practice,” said Tove R Wang, head of Save the Children Norway.

”But being the best brings its own responsibilities. Norway must now take the lead in the work to break the circle of poverty in the countries that are faring worst,”

Niger replaced Afghanistan as the worst place in the world to be a mother.

In Niger, a newborn baby girl will likely get four years of education and will have a life  expectancy of 56 years. A Norwegian girl, by contrast, will get 18 years of education and can expect to live to the age of 83.

In addition to education and life expectancy, the study also ranked countries in terms of factors such as the number of health staff in place when a child is born, the number of women using contraception, rules for maternity leave, and the number of children who die before they have turned five. In Niger, one in every seven children dies before the age of five.

”It’s good news that we top this ranking for the third year in a row, but it’s also important to keep a focus on the countries at the bottom of these statistics, ” said Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg.

”We will continue the work we are doing to improve the health of children and mothers in these countries.”

The Nordic region as a whole is well represented on the list, with Norway followed by Iceland, Sweden, New Zealand, Denmark and Finland.

According to Save the Children, Norway also tops the global breast feeding charts and is the best country in the world to be a woman.

The United States ranks as the 25th best place to be a mother.

“While the US has moved up in the rankings, ahead of last year’s 31st place, we still fall below most wealthy nations,” said Carolyn Miles, CEO of Save the Children.

“A woman in the US is more than 7 times as likely to die of a pregnancy-related cause in her lifetime than a woman in Italy or Ireland. When it comes to the number of children enrolled in preschools or the political status of women, the United States also places in the bottom 10 countries of the developed world.”

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Why are more people waiting to be given a GP in Norway?

As many as 116,000 people are waiting to be given a "fastlege", or GP, in Norway. So, why are residents having to wait to be assigned a doctor?

More than 116,000 people are waiting to be given a GP in Norway. Pictured is a picture of a stethoscope and some paperwork.
More than 116,000 people are waiting to be given a GP in Norway. Pictured is a picture of a stethoscope and some paperwork. Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.

A recent quarterly report from the Norwegian Directorate of Health has revealed that 116,000 people in Norway are on the waiting list to be given a GP

Furthermore, the number of those without a doctor has grown in recent years, with those in rural and northern parts of the country more likely to be left waiting for a GP. 

The current GP scheme in Norway allows everyone to choose their own doctor, who acts as the patients’ main point of contact with the health service. Your GP is also responsible for your primary medical needs, and you are allowed to change your doctor twice a year. 

READ ALSO: How Norway’s health insurance scheme works and the common problems foreigners face

Doctors in Norway have warned that a lack of funding and staff is threatening the GP system. 

“The GP scheme is on the verge of collapsing because there are too few doctors,” Bernand Holthe, a GP on the board of the Nordland Medical Association and a member of GP’s association for the area, told public broadcaster NRK

He says that reform in 2012 to the GP system has left doctors with too much work with not enough resources at their disposal. 

“After the collaboration reform in 2012, the GP scheme has been given too many tasks without receiving a corresponding amount of resources,” Holthe said. 

The government has pledged around 450 million in funding for GPs in its state budget for 2022, which Holthe argues isn’t enough to recruit the number of GPs necessary. 

Nils Kristian Klev and Marte Kvittum Tangen who represent the country’s 5,000 or so GPs also said they were disappointed with the level of funding allocated for doctors in the national budget. 

“The Labor Party was clear before the election that they would increase the basic funding in the GP scheme. This is by far the most important measure to ensure stability and recruitment and it is urgent,” the pair told Norwegian newswire NTB.

Patients have been left frustrated, and in a recent survey on healthcare in the country, one reader of The Local expressed their frustration at not having a GP. 

“I moved from Olso to Tromso, and I’m currently without a GP. Helsenorge didn’t think this was an issue and told me to visit a hospital if I needed to see a doctor. How can a municipality have no places for a doctor? Everyone has a right to a local doctor, and I’ve been left with nothing. All I can do is join a waiting list in the hopes a place turns up before I get ill,” Sinead from Tromsø said in the survey. 

Another reader described the fastlege system as “horrible”. 

Key vocabulary

Fastlege– GP 

Legevakt– Emergency room

Sykehus– Hospital 

Helseforsikring– Health insurance

Legekontor- Doctors office