Day 14 (? we’ve lost count!): Final Day in Oslo

Today was the big culmination of our two weeks here working on Sustainable Development Goal #17: Partnerships for the Goals!

Since our arrival, we have been collaborating in international groups (three Norwegian students and two American students in each group) working on community health projects.

For these projects, we have identified international populations with health issues, researched global literature to find evidence-based solutions to these health issues, identified S.M.A.R.T. goals backed by research, and planned how to actually implement these interventions through identifying potential barriers, stakeholders, and evaluation methods.

Today, our three groups of mixed Norwegian and American students presented our community health projects, and the results were creative and inspiring:

  1. Ashley, Mathea, Naomi, Sharon, and Sophie presented an interactive project identifying interventions for people living with HIV. They compared and contrasted the responses to the UN’s 90-90-90 goal (90% of people with HIV know they are infected, 90% of people with HIV are on antivirals, and 90% of people with HIV have an undetectable viral load) between the two countries. We learned how Norway has already surpassed this goal and their next goal, while the U.S. has yet to reach the 90-90-90 goal. The best intervention identified to implement in the U.S.A. that has proven successful in Norway is for nurses to advocate for policy change around HIV treatment management, including access to healthcare and medicine for people living with HIV.

  1. Ingrid, Janessa, Karin, Maria, and Priya presented a video they produced, which focused on interventions for people who use substances. They found research showing that healthcare providers’ attitudes drastically affect the healthcare that people who use substances receive. The students also interviewed two Norwegian men who use substances, and the men shared stories of their experience visiting healthcare. Hearing the stories first-hand was impactful, as we empathized with these men who were disbelieved, kicked out of healthcare facilities because of bias when they were in need of help, and not given enough pain medicine because they were seen as drug-seeking. The evidence-based intervention to address this health issue is for providers to use compassionate, empathic care. Simple but powerful.

  1. Anne, Ingar, Malene, Windy, and I presented a song (our own lyrics, to the tune of TikTok by Kesha) outlining our interventions for people who are homeless and suffer from mental illness. We discovered Housing First is an intervention widely used in Scandinavia, where people who are homeless are given housing first, and then treatment. This is different from the traditional models where people who are homeless first need to “get sober,” “take care of their mental issues,” or any other qualifications in order to “earn” housing. Meeting the most basic need for shelter first, then addressing treatment for mental illness, has proven effective in Norway, among other countries. We came up with a model of a government-funded version of Housing First to implement in Columbus, Ohio.

After our final presentations of our study abroad trip, and heartfelt goodbyes with our new friends, we branched out to explore, shop, and write postcards. We finished our final day in Norway with a (surprisingly educational—hello, Sustainable Development Goal #3: Life Below Water!) group dinner at swanky The Salmon restaurant at Aker Brygge pier right on Oslo Fjord. We said some more heartfelt goodbyes to our Mama Unni and are currently attempting to pack way too many things into way too little bags.

Being in Norway has been eye-opening, inspirational, and soul-fulfilling in too many ways to describe. I am beyond grateful for this experience and to everyone who shared it with me and shaped it for me. TUSEN TAKK from the bottom of my heart.

xoxo Jeanie, signing off from Norway 22

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