18.01.2017 Straight from the source

Editorial Eva Bruhin. The WHO estimates that more than 50 % of chronic diseases could be prevented (or at least delayed) by preventive measures. About 2 million people are affected in Switzerland. The direct healthcare costs of these diseases amounted to 51.7 billion Swiss francs in 2011, or 80 % of total healthcare expenditure – and these costs are rising.

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Promising results have been shown by national prevention programmes (such as campaigns related to diet and exercise or alcohol and smoking), together with projects initiated by NGOs and healthcare providers as well as regional and national associations.

However, it is time to stop this increase: time for the non-communicable diseases (NCD) strategy, which is supported by the federal government, the cantons and Health Promotion Switzerland. Switzerland's expenditure on prevention amounts to CHF 1.54 billion, which is low by international standards. In 2013, approximately 2.2 % of all healthcare expenditure was spent on prevention, while the average for the OECD was 3.1 %. Of this expenditure, 37 % was funded privately, 23 % by social insurance and 39 % by the public sector. In order to curb the rising financial burden on the healthcare system and the number of patients suffering from non-communicable diseases, the Federal Department of Home Affairs (FDHA) is gradually increasing the surcharge on the health insurance premium. These funds should make it possible to diagnose and treat mental illness more rapidly, improve people's health in old age, and strengthen the role of prevention in healthcare – since this is where the benefit to patients is greatest.

The measures proposed in the NCD strategy are now being implemented. Three priorities were defined in the strategy: "Population-based health promotion and prevention", "Prevention in business and the workplace" and "Prevention in healthcare." This issue of "spectra" focuses on the last of these priorities. The valuable achievements made so far in prevention in order to reduce the incidence of chronic diseases and curb rising healthcare costs will be continued and supplemented with the NCD strategy. Organisations involved in prevention will cooperate even more closely and coordinate their activities. This will make it possible to include new and promising projects. Some of these are presented here.

Eva Bruhin, Director Prevention Strategies Section

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