Jon Petter A Stoor


Postdoctoral fellow, Department of Epidemiology and Global Health, Lávvuo-Research and Education for Sámi Health, Umeå University, Sweden.
Researcher, Centre for Sámi Health Research, Department of Community Medicine, UiT-the Arctic University of Norway.

Equity for Sámi Patients Too: Unraveling Paradoxes within a Universal Healthcare System

Person-centered healthcare systems necessitate an understanding of how Indigenous worldviews and socio-cultural realities influence the health experiences of Indigenous people. The majority of the Indigenous Sámi reside in their traditional northern homelands in Fenno-Scandinavia – Sápmi, and thus grapple with health challenges associated with long distances, inadequate infrastructure, and rurality. While some of these issues can be addressed with sufficient funding and political will, I argue that other challenges are deeply rooted in national norms, practices, and legislation. This will be exemplified from the situation in Sweden. Why are Indigenous Sámi patients still not entitled to healthcare in Sámi language(s), and can we genuinely claim the existence of person-centered care in such a scenario? Furthermore, could the adaptation of care to meet Sámi needs be perceived as conflicting with the principle of equity, foundational to any universal healthcare system? Drawing from experiences, knowledge, and research, I try to highlight the challenges to, and the pathways towards, achieving equitable services, realising person-centred care for Indigenous Sámi, too.

Stoor (Pikku-Nilsa Ánde Biehtar) is a clinical psychologist turned suicide prevention worker turned public health researcher. He initiated and coordinates the Lávvuo research group, Sweden’s first university-based health research milieu focusing on Sámi health, at Umeå University. On behalf of the Sámi parliament in Sweden, and in collaboration with the Agency for Public Health in Sweden, Lávvuo implemented the first nationwide population-based health study among Sámi in Sweden, in spring 2021. Supported by this key resource, Lávvuo strives to reach the aim of supporting Sámi health in Sweden through research and education activities, maintaining a community-driven “nothing for us – without us” principle. Ongoing projects focus on impacts of discrimination on Sámi health, impacts of the Covid-19-pandemic on Indigenous communities, traditional food for healthy aging (with Slow food Sápmi), work-related health in reindeer husbandry (with Sámiid Riikasearvi), support-systems for Sámi women exposed to violence (with Niejda) and Global Indigenous youth health (with Sáminuorra). Still a junior researcher (PhD 2020), Stoor is fortunate to take part in the Lancet commissions on suicide and self-harm, and Arctic health.