Health and social services

Based on the Constitution, public authorities must guarantee for everyone adequate social, medical and health services and promote the health of the population. Social welfare and health care system is founded on government-subsidized municipal social welfare and health care services. In addition private enterprises and non-governmental organizations provide services. Responsibility for the social welfare and health care is under the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health. The ministry prepares legislation and guides implementation. It also directs and guides the development of social security and social welfare and health care services and the operation of the sector. The Ministry is responsible for formulating social welfare and health care policy, preparing legislative reforms and overseeing implementation. Government agencies and public bodies within the ministry’s administrative branch are responsible for research and development and often also for guidance, supervision and statistics. These government agencies and public bodies include, among others, the National Institute for Health and Welfare, the Finnish Medicines Agency, the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority and the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health.

The basic social welfare, public health and specialized medical care services that must be available in every municipality are defined by law. Local authorities e.g. municipalities are responsible for organizing the provision of social welfare and health care services. They can organize the provision of services independently or form joint municipal authorities with each other. Local authorities can outsource the provision of services to other local authorities, a non-governmental organization or a private service provider. Local authorities can decide the scale, scope and model of municipal service provision within the limits of legislation. Therefore services available can vary from one municipality to another. Operations and services are mostly funded by municipal tax revenue. The State supports municipal service provision by means of central government transfers to local government. The amount paid depends on the municipality’s population, population structure and morbidity, among other factors.


Physical activity

Physical activity and sport life is largely based on volunteer activities in the non-governmental organizations. Local authorities provide sports facilities. The Ministry leads, develops and coordinates sports policy and finances sports in order to promote health-enhancing, competitive and performance sports and related civic activities with a view to advancing well-being and health and supporting children's and young people's growth through sports. The government co-finances sports provision, supporting the activities of 130 federations.
There are 7 800 sports clubs in Finland. Annually 350,000 children and young people and 500,000 adults use the services of sports clubs and federations. The most popular sports among adults are walking, including Nordic walking, and cycling. Children's and young people's favorite sport is football.

Based on research on using accelerometers for measuring physical activity adults spent the majority of their waking hours motionless; on average three quarters of the waking time is spent lying, sitting or standing. Brisk or strenuous physical activity based on physical activity recommendations accumulates during the day very little. Just under a quarter of the adults reached the daily recommendation for endurance type of physical activity. According to the earlier questionnaire based studies half of people of working age and one quarter of retired people moved enough in relation to endurance type of physical activity.

Light activity was almost one fifth of the total waking time and brisk activities around four percent and high-intensity activities less than one percent of the total waking time. Light activity was most common among 30-to 60-year olds and the most vigorous physical activity was most common among less than 30 years old, although in particular among young men variation was high.



National Institute for Welfare and Health

SOTKAnet contains comprehensive statistical information on welfare and health in Finland. The service also includes key data on population and health in Europe broken down by country. More information about SOTKAnet Statistics and Indicator Bank, can be found here

THL's statistical data is produced not only from national registers but also within the framework of its R&D activities from sample material or ready-made statistical data. The survey-based population studies draw on information reported by the research subjects themselves. More information can be found here

Other resources:

Terveys 2011 (Health 2011) Study
Ministry of Social Affairs and Health 
Ministry of Education and Culture: Sports 
Association of local authorities, more information available here
Brochure Health Care in Finland (download
General information on Finland, available here.
General information on Finland, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Finland, available here

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