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Samuel Lagercrantz: The government’s performance in healthcare and life sciences so far

Since the change of government in Sweden, developments in the healthcare sector have shown promising signs, but the outlook in life sciences is less promising, writes Samuel Lagercrantz in an editorial.

What is the healthcare system’s most important role? The answer is obvious: to benefit patients. The recent announcement by the government that it wants to see a national centre for long Covid, and other post-infectious diseases, was therefore welcome. The same applies to the Minister for Health, Acko Ankarberg Johansson’s (KD) emphasis, in connection with the press conference where the initiative was presented, that patients with long Covid often do not receive the treatment they should have received in the healthcare system.

Some doctors have clearly been more interested in labelling long Covid as a mental disorder in the media than in embracing the research in the field. The fact that there is now a clear signal from the Ministry of Social Affairs that long Covid should be taken seriously is therefore positive. It is a start towards being able to provide those affected with serious and good care.

Other initiatives taken by the government are also important. I am thinking, for example, of the plan to follow up on COVID-19 testing in Sweden during the pandemic. It is crucial that an event as significant as the Covid crisis is evaluated from many perspectives, and although the Covid Commission presented a solid review, there are still many aspects of the management that need to be further clarified in order to learn for the future.

However, while there are several promising signs in the healthcare sector, the government’s efforts in the life sciences so far look less promising.

Since the change of government last autumn, the Life Science Office has been languishing. Since the start of the year, the office has also been without a director, and the government has barely said a word about the national life science strategy.

The government needs to step up if Sweden is to continue the positive trend in this area that we have seen in recent years.

Of course, there are many other important issues for the government to deal with. In Sophie Stigfur’s interview with Acko Ankarberg Johansson on page 16 of this issue, you can read about the Health Minister’s thoughts on more state-run healthcare – an issue that KD has previously pursued and which it will now be interesting to follow.

Editorial from Life Science Sweden #2.2023

Update: In an article in Dagens Nyheter May 22 Minister of Education Mats Persson stated that the Life Science Office will remain but he had no information on if a new director for the office will be appointed.

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