01.05.2014 At first hand
Editorial Alberto Marcacci. As we all know, living healthily is not always easy – and it takes energy to do so. Promoting health is a complex undertaking. But how can people be motivated to lead healthier lives while preserving their personal freedom? Answers are to be found in the definition of public health as formulated by Winslow in 1920 and modified by Acheson in 1988 – a definition that has lost none of its topicality over the years: public health "is the science and art of preventing disease, prolonging life and promoting physical health and efficiency through organised community efforts."
Three elements in this definition are particularly interesting. The first is science: all activities must be based on sound scientific principles and best practice. The second is art: public health – just like art – requires creativity in the pursuit of new solutions for an ever-changing and developing environment. The third element is organised community efforts: a comprehensive community-based approach requires the promotion of cooperation between different sectors and the establishment of innovative partnerships.
In the context of the Swiss Nutrition and Physical Activity Programme, we have launched numerous activities involving cross-sector cooperation at the national level. Examples include our 2009 launch of the "actionsanté" initiative, which currently involves 18 partners from industry who have made a voluntary commitment to help consumers arrive at healthy choices. It is a dialogue with business, based on concrete measures. A second example is the start of the FOPH's cooperation with Health Promotion Switzerland and the Swiss National Accident Fund SUVA early in 2013 to enable activities promoting corporate health to be coordinated at a national level. With their joint strategy and joint tools, the three institutions promote the implementation of interventions in four areas of corporate health: ergonomics, physical activity, nutrition and stress.
These examples illustrate the current demand for coordinated global approaches by cross-sector and interdisciplinary teams in health promotion and prevention. But whatever action is taken, we must never forget that the individual must always be the focus of our efforts.
Head of Nutrition and Physical Activity Section
Federal Office of Public Health