Ulf Malmström is a coordinator at the National Board of Health and Welfare, which assumed responsibility for the development of treatment methods for gambling addition in 2012, succeeding the Swedish National Institute of Public Health.
What does the National Board of Health and Welfare’s new role in supporting the development of the care and treatment of gambling addiction entail?
"Our role primarily entails providing support, guidelines and guidance for operations out in the county councils and in the social services. We have also assumed the task of distributing funds for out-patient treatment services. This feels natural since the National Board of Health and Welfare’s expertise and supervision pertains to the care and treatment of such areas as alcohol and drugs with which we have significant experience. In May 2013, we will present a plan for how we want to expand on the care and treatment initiatives and what we deem possible within the framework of our directive."
There is a proposal to include the care and treatment of gambling in the Social Services Act. What are your thoughts on that?
"This would clarify the delegation of responsibility between the county councils and the social services, which would facilitate the workload of each organisation and enable better coordination. Most care seekers are often referred from the social services to the county councils and vice versa, which must be incredibly frustrating."
How do you view the possibilities of cooperation between the gaming companies and the National Board of Health and Welfare?
"Our roles are very different. The unregulated companies have a profit motive, which complicates the opportunities for cooperation. Svenska Spel works with different systems to reduce the risks of gaming, but people still fall through the cracks and become addicted. We have different tasks, but there are always gains to be made from sharing knowledge."
How are your Priorities organised?
"We will begin by working on acquiring more in-depth knowledge about gambling addicts and the extent of the problem in society. Learning more will provide us with a better basis for potential actions. We will also review the knowledge that the Swedish National Institute of Public Health has amassed and acquaint ourselves with the current research in the area. The next step will be to work to clarify the delegation of responsibility between social services and the county councils."