Rosling Seminar on Sustainable Health

On October 6, the first annual Rosling Seminar was arranged jointly by the World Health Organization and Karolinska Institutet. The seminar was held in Aula Medica in front of students and special invited guests, and digitally, with attendees and speakers participating on line. Visitors from more than 60 countries logged in.

Some pictures from the seminar are included below. The whole seminar can be watched on KI’s web site.


I would like to express my sincere gratitude to all that made this event possible. A special thank you to our honoured speakers and panelists:

  • Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General WHO 
  • Melinda French Gates from Gates Foundation
  • Mariana Mazzucato, Professor in the Economics of Innovation, Public Value at University College London
  • Soumya Swaminathan, Chief Scientist WHO
  • Rhoda Wanyenze, dean Makerere University School of Public Health 
  • Cesar Victora, Emeritus Professor of Epidemiology at the Federal University of Pelotas in Brazil
  • Ola Rosling, Gapminder

A thank you also to the moderator of this historical seminar: Stefan Swartling Peterson, Professor here at KI.

Annual event

The seminar was the first joint World Health Organization and Karolinska Institutet seminar in the spirit of the late Hans Rosling. In my opening speech I expressed my hope that the seminar would be an annual event and an opportunity to provide an update on the development of the world´s health.

The title of the Rosling seminar was Health Equity and Pandemics – a Moonshot for Sustainable Health”. 

Hans Rosling often spoke about an interconnected world, where our destinies are intertwined. Indeed, the current pandemic has shown us how interconnected and interdependent we are. In the spirit of Hans, and honouring his legacy, we discussed how we – after this pandemic – should build back – not only better, but fairer, and how we should build back sustainably, based on evidence and facts, and with the optimism and conviction that Hans so famously espoused.

Create or impact health

The way forward will require that we look into all sectors that create or impact health – as the Sustainable Development Goals inspire us to do. The pandemic has told us in no uncertain terms that we need a global transformation for health – with due attention to poverty, inequity and planetary boundaries.  

During the meeting Ola Rosling introduced us to the “health grip” where each of the five fingers represents sectors and arenas where health is created or impacted. In terms of relative importance the health care sector is the “little finger” of the health grip. The take home message: Health and well-being must be seen in a system perspective that transcends the traditional realm of health care. This is exactly what UN´s Agenda 2030 inspires us to do.

According to Ola the “health grip” was conceived by Hans already in the early 90s. Well before the 2008 WHO report on the socioeconomic determinants of health and well before the approvement of UN´s Agenda 2030 that carries much of the same message. Hans was a visionary, we know. The “health grip” is just another testimony to this and served as a perfect starting point for the discussion during last week´s Rosling seminar.

Melinda French Gates, with moderator Stefan Swartling Peterson
Ola Rosling
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
Mariana Mazzucato
The panelists: Cesar Victora, Rhoda Wanyenze, Soumya Swaminathan and Mariana Mazzucato.


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