As a political science major, I do have some prior experience revolving around the essential nature of public health. Many of my political development classes highlighted the role of healthy populations when it comes to the economic and political development of a society. However, being able to extensively cover topics such as inequalities within the health care system, migration and health policies, and the nature of the Swedish healthcare system is incredibly enlightening.
I’m a firm believer in the adoption of Universal Health Coverage, which is defined by the WHO as the ability for all people to have adequate and financially feasible health care whenever they require it. Being able to learn about both the moral and economic arguments in favor of this approach is something I’m excited to take back home with me to the United States. Particularly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare and the corresponding equity and accessibility is more essential than ever before.
My classmates come from all corners of the United States including New York, California, and Minnesota. Some come from backgrounds in public health, while others are political science such as myself. I think having this varied and inclusive range of majors greatly lends to the classroom learning environment as topics are considered from unique perspectives.
My professor, Jad Shedrawy, is not only incredibly knowledgeable about the topics we have covered, but he has also imbued our class with his own enthusiasm and passion for public health. Even seemingly dry topics, such as Health Economics and Incremental Cost-Effectiveness Ratios, are intriguing given the engaging nature in which they are explained. In addition to our class material, Jad has also proven to be knowledgeable when it comes to local points of interest around Stockholm. Our class has discovered attractions such as the Moderna Museet, as well as numerous lunch spots, thanks to his greatly appreciated recommendations.
So far our class has had the ability to travel to both the Spirit Museum as well as a walk around the city of Stockholm itself to witness public health in action. The Spirit Museum visit corresponded with our syllabus’s coverage of illicit drugs, alcohol, tobacco, and other high-risk lifestyle factors impacting health. The museum really highlighted the inter-linkage between both international politics and public health.
In Sweden, Systembolaget is the state monopoly over the distribution of alcohol. This serves as an excellent means for public health initiatives to attempt to curb excessive consumption through various informational and media campaigns, as well as through taxation. However, despite the potential public health benefits to this system, tensions have previously arisen upon Sweden’s entrance into the European Union due to the difficulty this state monopoly presents the free movement of goods within the union member states.
After visiting the museum, our class headed over to Rosendal’s trädgården to experience more of the island of Djurgården. We enjoyed an organic and locally sourced lunch with a lovely garden view, all just minutes outside of the very center of Stockholm.