What we do at the Centre for Health Crises

The Centre for Health Crises works according to an all-hazard perspective, with an aim to strengthen our ability to face and prevent health crises. Through research, education, expert advice, and interdisciplinary collaboration, we help build the next generation of health crises experts.

Vision, mission, and method of working

By way of research, education, and expert advice, we want to contribute to improved preparedness and ability to handle future health crises, in particular by building the next generation of health crises experts. Our focus is on making sure that knowledge and proven experience inform policy and plans for the handling of future health crises.  

The centre’s vision is "A society better prepared for future health crises" and our mission is "Building the next generation of health crises experts through research, education and interdisciplinary collaboration".

The centre’s strategy is to build capacity across the board: prevention, preparedness, response, and resilience. This means that our way of working will be different depending on which phase is being focused on. A long-term focus is needed when working with prevention and preparedness, and creating resilience, which has a longer timeframe for seeing results. An example of such long-term focus in our work is the plan to establish a research school, where participating doctoral students may also be seconded to organisations, in order to get practical experience already during their time in education.

At the same time, the ability to act fast and be ready when needed is also vital, as has been shown during the COVID-19-pandemic and the conflict in Ukraine. The pre-existing Centre for Research on Health Care in Disasters at Karolinska Institutet (KI) has plenty of experience of this, but the method of working needs to be further developed and expanded to include health crises in a broader sense.

A conceptual model for the centre’s way of working is being developed.

Collage of three images. From left: scenery in drought, woman with face mask, cracked glass pane in the window to a hospital room
Visualisation of the Centre for Health Crises work Photo: n/a

What we work with

The COVID-19-pandemic highlighted that no country in the world was sufficiently prepared for a pandemic. It is clear that transformative change is needed to handle future pandemics and other health crises, be it rapidly occurring weather changes, conflicts, natural disasters, or more slow-burning threats such as antibiotic resistance or other unpredictable health threats.

The centre will adopt an ’all hazards perspective’ and look holistically at how health crises affect society (overburdened healthcare, effects on vulnerable groups, mental health challenges, difficulty in information reaching out/disinformation etc). To do this requires an understanding of how vulnerability varies and how the combined effect of different health threats (hazards) affect health, health systems and society. Consequently, it is not enough to simply highlight various health effects of triggering hazards, but we must also understand the complex concurrences and how vulnerabilities covariate. The effects must be understood according to already existing vulnerabilities and the resilience of individuals, health systems and societies, as well as their ability to cope.

Initially the centre will create a number of thematical areas based on various health threats, such as for example: pandemics, conflicts, CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear health threats), health issues due to environment and climate change, extreme weather and natural disasters, as well as an area with a more horizontal theme – the ability of health systems to cope, resist and adapt to health threats, including the ability to adapt regular health care to the needs of a specific health threat.

Strategic goals 

  • Catalyse research collaborations within the field of health crises and create meeting spaces for interdisciplinary collaboration
  • Stimulate, and participate in, the development of new education within different health crises subjects
  • Gather existing, and build new, expertise in health crises and supply their specific know-how and competence
  • Push policy development and, in collaboration, set the agenda for increased health crises preparedness
  • Act as KI’s, and its managements, sensor for new health threats and contribute to the coordination of KI’s efforts in a health crisis

News from the Centre for Health Crises