The role of the National Board of Health and Welfare during the COVID-19 response in Sweden

The National Board of Health and Welfare is an important stakeholder in providing support to the health system and social services during the Swedish COVID-19 response.

We support and coordinate the crisis preparedness in the 21 Swedish regions, and also collaborate with the regional preparedness organisations, other competent authorities and the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions, the employers' organisation that represents and advocates local government in Sweden. 

We collect situation reports and assess regional and municipal needs

In collaboration with the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB) and the County Councils (SKR) we collect situation reports and make assessments of regional and municipal needs of personal protective equipment (PPE) and medical supplies based on their requests to us.

Situation reports

Based on the intelligence that is submitted to us, we conduct different kinds of analyses that are turned into situation reports. Some of these situation reports are meant for internal use at the Board and for the daily management of the Covid-19 response, whereas others have a more long-term perspective or are aimed at other stakeholders. We deliver situation reports regularly to the Government Offices and to the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency.

Coordinate and provide resources

Based on the needs of support submitted by the County Councils and the regions, the Board coordinates and provides resources and support from other stakeholders and government agencies, for example the Swedish Armed Forces (Försvarsmakten) and the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency.

Assist with coordinated purchases of medical supplies

In Sweden, the 21 regions and 290 municipalities are responsible for everyday purchasing, delivery and receipt of personal protective equipment and medical supplies. During the Covid-19 response, the National Board of Health and Welfare has been commissioned by the Government to assist coordinated purchasing from the national level and to secure access to personal protective equipment and other supplies if the regional or municipal capacity for this is insufficient. The Board is also commissioned to assist with redistribution of equipment and supplies, if needed.

We purchase medical supplies and personal protective equipment on the open market and we also represent Sweden in the EU joint procurement of personal protective equipment.

Distribution of new medical supplies and redistribution of medical supplies

A new commission from the Government authorises the National Board of Health and Welfare to decide on the use of resources in regions and municipalities when it comes to supplies in the health system. The new commission allows the Board to redistribute existing medical supplies and to distribute new medical supplies between regions and municipalities. We do this in collaboration with the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB), The Swedish Armed Forces (Försvarsmakten) and the Swedish Red Cross. 

Swedish production of medical supplies and personal protective equipment

The Board regularly signs contracts with Swedish companies to increase production of medical supplies and personal protective equipment. There is also an ongoing discussion with other stakeholders to purchase and increase production of supplies. We collect information on how we can find new ways to manufacture protective equipment and provide medical supplies to the Swedish market.

Coordination of intensive care unit (ICU) beds

We have been commissioned by the Government to establish a national coordination mechanism for ICU beds. The purpose of the mechanism is to support the 21 regions in coordinating available ICU beds and to support when it comes to increasing the number of ICU beds nationally. The coordination is based on the daily situation reports that we deliver, both when it comes to available and occupied ICU beds on a national and regional level. The increase of ICU beds is made possible by, for example, adding resources such as medical devices and field hospitals and a coordinated collaboration with the Swedish Armed Forces (Försvarsmakten).

Prognoses and changing scenarios

The Board collaborates with the Public Health Agency (Folkhälsomyndigheten) to produce prognoses for ICU occupancy. We also work with some of our 21 regions to determine the need for post-ICU care. We are also exploring different scenarios that could occur while the Covid-19 pandemic is still ongoing, and how these scenarios could affect the Swedish health system.

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