01.03.2011 At first hand

Editorial Liliane Bruggmann. There is a strong tradition of cooperation between the public and private sectors in Switzerland, and the tightening of govern­ment budgets, growing demands on the state and ever greater complexity of innovation processes are forcing administrations to step up cooperation with the private sector. This also applies to the field of prevention and health promotion, which is investing in the development of effective partnerships.

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The fact is that the health authorities cannot be solely responsible for promoting a healthy lifestyle. The private sector also has an important part to play in enabling people to opt for a way of life that keeps them healthy. With food legislation as a basis, the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) and its partners ensure that, in Switzerland, foodstuffs and articles that come into contact with food are safe. The manufacturers bear the main responsibility for the safety of the foodstuffs they produce and they are obliged to adopt self-monitoring. The Confederation and cantons are responsible for carrying out random checks. This division of responsibilities and the cooperation between the private sector and the state ensure food safety without the need for an unnecessarily elaborate and costly system of state controls.

The FOPH chose a new form of cooperation with the private sector for the National «Diet and Physical Activity 2008–2012» Programme. Companies that engage in voluntary activities in the context of the actionsanté initiative make an important contribution to creating an environment that is conducive to health. The private sector can participate on a voluntary basis in the following areas: improving information for consumers, checking food formulations (implementation of the Salt Strategy), promoting an environment that encourages physical activity, and codes of conduct for the advertising of high-energy foodstuffs. Sponsorship is another way in which tasks arising from prevention projects can be divided between the public and the private sector.

To ensure the success of these different forms of cooperation, mutual trust and an open dialogue are important, indeed indispensable.

Liliane Bruggmann
Head of Nutrition and Physical Activity Section

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