New PANSOC affiliate: Vibeke Narverud Nyborg

We are pleased to welcome Vibeke Narverud Nyborg, Associate Professor at University of South-Eastern Norway (USN), as a new affiliate with PANSOC for the academic year 2021-22. She is a historian, has a PhD in the History of Medicine and Health and will do research on “Pandemics and national regulations”, funded by USN. Her exiting project is described in her own words below:

“Through my PhD work I came across many of the national health regulations that developed as part of the modernization processes that occurred in Norway during the 19th century. Most of these regulations came as a response to specific diseases that threatened the health and wellbeing of the population. In addition, a national health regulation for all areas, the Norwegian Health Care Act (Sunnhetsloven), was adopted by the Parliament in 1860. These regulations were developed to secure the population from infectious diseases in addition to focusing on preventive health measures and public health as part of developing into a modern society. Most of these regulations were in use when the “Spanish” Influenza Pandemic reached Norway in 1918.

However, although the “Spanish” Influenza took more lives over a shorter period of time than any other disease during the 19th and early 20th century, no specific regulation was adopted for the “Spanish” Influenza Pandemic. It will hence be relevant to investigate if any of the already approved regulations specifically adopted to prevent epidemic diseases from spreading, primarily based on non-pharmaceutical measures aiming to secure the healthy from the sick, were considered part of the measures taken in an attempt to prevent the Spanish Influenza from spreading nationally and in different local societies. To the best of my knowledge, little if no research at all has been conducted on this area when it comes to regulations and pandemics in a Norwegian context, and there is also scarce research done on this in an international context.

As the final work of my PhD was highly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and the measures taken nationally, highly affecting all persons’ lives and also my own and my PhD colleagues’ research, I started to be interested in the connection between regulations and infectious pandemics, such as COVID-19 and the “Spanish” Influenza. I soon discovered that little research has been done in order to investigate if and how national regulations were used during the “Spanish” Influenza pandemic in 1918-1920, whether local measures were used and whether they had any effect on morbidity and mortality. Another area of investigation that seems to be scarce is if the “Spanish” Influenza had any impact on the health care regulations that were developed after the effect of the pandemic was known. Did the pandemic of 1918-1920 have any effect on future risk planning and legislation to secure the population in a similar situation?

I look very much forward to working on this topic as part of my research activities in the academic year of 2021-22 and am happy to be part of the PANSOC team to explore and learn more about pandemics and society from the other experts working in this research environment”.