Life and Health
The Health Services Act provides for the organisation of healthcare services. Its objective is to afford all Icelanders with access to the best available healthcare which can be provided at any given time. Everyone needs the services of the healthcare system at some time, although to a varying extent, and the system takes into consideration the different needs and circumstances of persons through all stages of life.
The work of public health and preventive medical services are an important part of improving or maintaining good health and increasing well-being in Iceland.
The Health Services Act, No. 40/2007, sets out the basic structure of national healthcare services. The country is divided into seven healthcare districts, in each of which one or more healthcare institutions operate to provide general healthcare services for the district, such as primary healthcare, service and nursing in nursing homes and general hospital services.
The Landspítali University Hospital is the country's main hospital. Primary healthcare should generally be the first stop for patients seeking healthcare services. Services for seniors are dealt with specifically in the Act on the Affairs of the Elderly, No. 125/1999.
The Directorate of Health handles supervision of healthcare services in Iceland, as well as a variety of tasks aimed at health promotion and improving public health, as provided for in the Act on the Medical Director of Health and Public Health, No. 41/2007. The Directorate is also responsible, for instance, for preventive measures against epidemics, as required under the Act on Health Security and Communicable Diseases, No. 19/1997, and for supervision of pharmaceutical prescriptions and monitoring use of pharmaceuticals. Licensing of healthcare professionals under the Healthcare Practitioners Act, No. 34/2012, is also the task of the Directorate of Health.
Icelandic Health Insurance operates in accordance with the Act on Health Insurance, No. 112/2008. The agency administers health insurance, and handles negotiations and payments for healthcare services, as well as additional tasks.
The Medicinal Products Act, No. 93/1994, lays down the framework for provision and sale of medicinal products in Iceland. According to the Act, a Medicinal Products Director in the Ministry of Welfare is responsible for matters concerning medicinal products on behalf of the Minister. The basic objective of the Medicinal products Act is to ensure a sufficient supply of medicinal products with quality and secure service, to increase public education on use of medicinal products, prevent immoderate use of pharmaceuticals and keep costs to a minimum. Professional supervision of manufacturing, import and distribution of medicinal products is the task of the Icelandic Medicines Agency. The Agency is also responsible for supervision of medical devices, as provided for in the Act on Medical Devices, No. 16/2001.
The Icelandic Radiation Safety Authority operates in accordance with the Act on Radiation Protection, No. 44/2002, as subsequently amended.
The National Bioethics Committee evaluates scientific healthcare research in order to ensure that it accords with scientific and ethical criteria. The Committee operates under the Act on Scientific Research in the Health Sector, No. 44/2014.