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Swedish Health Technology

Some while ago Bandolier was privileged to visit the building in the Karolinska where decisions are taken on Nobel prizes in medicine. Not, alas, for anything so spectacular, but for an interesting meeting nonetheless. Good things come from Sweden, besides Nobel prizes.

One is the Swedish Council on Technology Assessment in Health Care. This organisation has been going since the late 1980s, and now spends over £2 million a year and has 24 permanent staff. It produces reports in English as well as Swedish. Some will have an abstract only in English, but increasingly the full reports are in English as well. It now has a superb Internet site ( ) which allows the electronically astute to see what's available and order reports.

Recent reports include monographs on the use of neuroleptics, oestrogen treatments and on radiotherapy for cancer.

Ongoing projects include prevention of disease with antioxidants, prevention of cardiac disease by community intervention programmes (useful for the new health action zones), and the patient/doctor relationship.

A particular aspect of the work of the SBU (its Swedish acronym) is its ambassador programme. This involves having at least one ambassador in each of the 25 counties of Sweden as a messenger to provide face-to-face information about recent HTA findings at staff meetings and seminars.

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