Birger Forsberg

Birger Forsberg

Affiliated to research

Birger C Forsberg, MD, PhD, BSc. is a Senior Physician at Region Stockholm and an Associate Professor of International Health, Department of Global Public Health.

About me

My experience spans work in more than 25 countries as a staff member with WHO 1985-1989, a consultant to various international organisations and a researcher. I served as a CEO, InDevelop Uppsala AB in 1994-1998, and as such was responsible for managing large projects with field staff in nine countries under contracts with Sida, EU and others. In 2002-2009 I was a regular World Bank consultant, facilitating the interaction between the public and private sector in health services in various contexts and countries, in particular South Asia. 

My medical specialization is Public Health (socialmedicin in Swedish). I am a teacher and researcher in global health at the Department of Global Public Health/Public Health Sciences at Karolinska Institutet since 2002.

I have many years of experience from health care planning and evaluation in Swedish health services. In 2012-2018, I was the head of the unit for Health Development at the strategic purchaser function in Region Stockholm. Since 2018 I am a senior expert in the development of new long term plans for health services aimed at 2040 in Region Stockholm, which covers public health and health services for 2.3 million.

I have been active as a board member in several associations over the years, such as the Swedish Association of Social Medicine and the Swedish Association for Health Economics (SHEA), which I also took the initiative to. I was responsible and "Chair" for the European Public Health Conference (EPH) in Stockholm 2017 with some 2000 participants.

Research description

My research was originally on infectious diseases, in particular diarrhoeal diseases in children, but later broadened to wider health systems issues. Since 2001 I have been engaged in work on the role of the private sector in health delivery in low income countries, for 7 Years as coordinator of a KI/Harvard research programme called Private Sector in Health (PSP). My two interests have been combined in for instance looking at the behaviour of private drug vendors in management of diarrhoeal diseases in children in various countries.

As a health economist, I have been involved in various projects, currently mainly in low-cost surgery in low-income countries. I initiated and organized a full-day symposium on the private health care sector in low- and middle-income countries at the International Health Economics Association (IHEA) World Congress in Beijing in 2009. The symposium was later published as a supplement to the journal Health Policy and Planning. The idea was well received and similar symposia were then held at the two subsequent IHEA World Congresses in 2011 and 2013. The activity has since lived on in conjunction with global congresses organized by the leading organization for global health systems research, Health Systems Global, every second year. 

Through assignments for the Public Health Agency I got engaged in  research on various aspects of control of sexually transmitted diseases in Sweden, a work that lead to several publications and two PhD theses by students I supervised as main or co-supervisor.

On the Swedish side I have also been engaged in research projects on testing health coaches as a means to reach and support vulnerable groups and more recently supporting persons with type II diabetes in immigrant populations.  

Teaching portfolio

I have been teaching in academics for more than 30 years, primarily at Karolinska Institutet but also at the International Maternal and Child Maternal Health unit (IMCI) in Uppsala. Among the more prominent roles can be mentioned that I lead the course on Health Policy, Management and Economics (HPME) in the Master of Global Health Programme at KI for 5 years. I have for the last few years been responsible for a two week introductory module to  Public Health in the Master of Health Policy, Management and Economics Programme at LIME. Since 2019 I lead the course on Global Health Economics for doctoral students at KI together with Kristi Sidney Annerstedt. I teach Health economics regularly in the undergraduate training of doctors at KI. 

The textbook on "Hälso- och sjukvårdsplanering" ("Health care planning" in English) that I have written together with Hampus Holmer was published by Studentlitteratur in May 2022. 



  • Docent (Associate Professor), International Health, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, 4/2012         
  • PhD, Medical Sciences, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, 9/2007 
  • MSc (Public Health), Med Lic. Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, 6/1994                 
  • Specialist Diploma in Social Medicine/Public Health, National Board of Health and Social Welfare, 1/1992  
  • Certified Medical Doctor, National Board of Health and Social Welfare, 2/1984
  • MD, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, 1/1981   
  • BSc (Economics, Mathematics), University of Lund, Sweden, 1/1974
  • High School Degree, Katedralskolan, Lund, 6/71