Epidemiology Research in Greenland

Statens Serum Institut (SSI) has a long tradition for assistance to the Greenlandic Health System. Scientific studies in Greenland - particularly within the field of Infectious Diseases - are therefore a natural and central part of the research activities of the SSI.

Infectious diseases in Greenland

Infectious diseases are highly prevalent in Greenland. Earlier in this century Greenland held a world record in tuberculosis incidence. Thanks to large and focused efforts against tuberculosis this pattern has been broken, but infectious diseases still represent a large burden of disease in Greenland.

Statens Serum Institut has a particular interest in infectious diseases in Greenland and harbours a Section for Health Research in Greenland. Within the last 15 years SSI has carried out large population-based studies of infectious diseases with the overall aim to describe the epidemiology and to identify risk factors for a range of particularly frequent infectious diseases including respiratory tract infections, Tuberculosis, Hepatitis B, HIV, and sexually transmitted diseases.

Cancer, allergy and other diseases on the increase

Besides infectious diseases SSI also studies other diseases in Greenland, including cancer and allergy. Both cancer and allergy increase in frequency in line with the rapidly changing living conditions in Greenland.

Field studies, blood banks, and register-based studies

SSI has primarily carried out field studies in Greenland. Through these studies blood samples and other biological material has been collected and are today stored in nationwide biobanks. Along with the nationwide registers the biobanks are used more and more frequently for health research. In a country with a sparse and scattered population such registers are vital for carrying out population-based studies.

National and international collaboration

Living conditions are in many ways homogeneous for the sparse populations inhabiting the entire Arctic area. Besides a close collaboration with researchers and the Health System in Greenland, SSI is also involved in international collaborations, which have resulted in studies of the natural history of infectious diseases across borders.