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Adventist Health Professionals Organize in Norway

Aim is to better serve community needs, leaders say

Young adults took the lead as 150 health professionals and pastors met in Oslo last weekend for the Nordic Health Congress where they formed a new association for Adventist health professionals. The Norwegian Union Health Ministries Department organized the event, designed to inspire those professionals and pastors towards united efforts to meet the needs of their local communities as part of the world church's Comprehensive Health Ministry global initiative.

The newly elected Executive Committee of SAHA (Syvendedags Adventistenes Helsearbeiderforening) the Seventh-day Adventist Health Professionals' Association.  L. to r.: Allan Fjelmberg, Anders Wiik, Carina Schinagl, Hanne Lise Aune, Linn Helene Stølen, Svanhild Stølen, Marika Reistad Pettersen, Sandra Bjørk Olafsdottir and Fredrik Lillbäck. Andreas Hjortland was not present.  Nordic Health Congress 2017, Oslo, Norway, February 3-5, 2017. Photo: Tor Tjeransen/ADAMS.

Doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, dieticians and pastors were among the professionals who voted to establish the Seventh-day Adventist Health Professionals’ Association to coordinate their efforts to teach sound health practices and meet human needs.

Members of the new association are committed to the highest ethical standards in meeting people with health needs. Adventists want to give care and help because it is the right thing to do as followers of Jesus, not for ulterior motives.

Dr. Peter Landless, director of the Health Ministries Department at the world church headquarters addressed that issue.

Dr David Williams, Professor of Public Health, Harvard University. Nordic Health Congress 2017, Oslo, Norway, February 3-5, 2017. Tor Tjeransen/ADAMS

“It is important that we never are unethical when we share health intervention with people who are vulnerable,” he said and noted that some people might feel obliged to agree with the physician because they worry that the care might deteriorate if they do not.

Landless stressed that Adventist health professionals must serve the people they meet with no strings attached. “We do what we do, because it is the right thing to do and because Jesus has told us to do it,” he reminded the congress participants.

The association will certainly enhance the image and visibility of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Norway. The Norwegian Union president, Pastor Reidar Kvinge, was delighted to see the association formed.

“I am really grateful for the dedication of the highly qualified health professionals in our church. The new association will undoubtedly help us to become more focused and efficient in serving our local communities. We want to make a difference to the people of Norway,” Kvinge said.

Dr. David Williams, a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), was one of the presenters at the congress. In one of his lectures, he spoke about research on the consequences of early childhood experiences for health later in life.

“A large body of scientific research documents that experiences children have very early in life have consequences for health in adulthood,” he explained. The experiences Dr Williams referred to are major negative and stressful events: It could be a parent who is chronically depressed or parent who is addicted to drugs. “Those negative experiences affect their risk of heart disease, diabetes and depression later in life,” he said.

Dr. Williams also noted the positive effects of good childhood experiences: “To be loved and cared for is associated with improved biological functioning, even forty to sixty years later.”

Dr. Torben Bergland, Director of the Health Ministries department of the church in the Trans-European region, was very pleased with the outcomes of the conference.

“We wanted to rekindle the passion for health ministry among health professionals, pastors and others, and inspire them to engage in it with enthusiasm. Health ministry should be guided by evidence-based research and practices, the Bible and the insights of Ellen White, and we are taking a comprehensive perspective that encompasses much more than the diet only. What we as Adventists offer members and the public, must be balanced and make life richer,” Bergland commented after the close of the event.

Pastor Vidar Hovden said the congress had been one of the most inspiring Adventist events he had attended, and he particularly noted with gratitude how many young adults had been playing key roles in the congress.

More images from the Health Congress on ADAMS.


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