Fighting infectious disease: Responsibilities of the authorities
The task of healthcare and social welfare services is to safeguard that the population has the healthcare and social welfare services essential to their health and functional capacity and a healthy living environment in all conditions. Prevention of infectious diseases is part of healthcare and social welfare services.
Advice and guidance from health centre
As municipalities are responsible for organising healthcare, they are also responsible for the prevention of infectious diseases in their respective areas. Health centres give advice and guidance on infectious diseases. The primary contact point in matters concerning infections is always the local health centre.
Hospital districts are experts in the prevention of infectious diseases in their respective regions.
The Regional State Administrative Agencies coordinate and monitor the prevention of infectious diseases in their respective areas. They control that the hospital districts have sufficient healthcare preparedness for incidents in their respective regions.
National operators: Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) and The Finnish Institute of Occupational Health
The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health is responsible for the general planning, guidance and monitoring of the prevention of infectious diseases.
The Advisory Board on Communicable Diseases, appointed by the Government, works under the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health. It monitors overall developments in infectious disease outbreaks and supports the Ministry’s work in the prevention of infectious diseases.
The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health directs, monitors and coordinates healthcare and social welfare services’ preparedness for incidents and emergencies together with other operators. The Preparedness Unit is responsible for preparedness matters at the Ministry.
The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) is a national expert agency that:
- guides and supports municipalities, hospital districts and regional state administrative agencies in their work to prevent infectious diseases
- studies infectious diseases and their agents and monitors infectious disease threats in Finland and abroad
- develops diagnostics, monitoring and prevention of infectious diseases and informs the public about them
- gives the public guidance on how to avoid infection and prevent the spread of disease.
THL is an independent research institute operating under the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health.
The Finnish Institute of Occupational Health (TTL) is the expert agency in matters concerning risk assessments of work-related infections and the planning and implementation of prevention measures especially in occupational healthcare.
Cooperation necessary in the prevention of infectious diseases
Collaboration across administrative branches is essential for effective prevention of infectious diseases, and important partners in this work include healthcare and social welfare services, the border authorities and the media. Cooperation between Finnish authorities is complemented by international cooperation.
New infectious diseases are constantly emerging around the world. The increasing levels of international travel have sped up the spread of infectious diseases. For this reason, international cooperation to prevent and monitor infections is important.
The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) works closely with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).
The Ministry for Foreign Affairs publishes travel advice bulletins in Finnish and Swedish on the general security situation in different destinations.
Division of responsibilities based on the Communicable Diseases Act
The Communicable Diseases Act has provisions on the obligations of relevant authorities and on the cooperation between authorities. It is supplemented by the Government Decree on Communicable Diseases.