01.05.2011 At first hand

Editorial Ursula Koch und Roy Salveter. The foundations of adult health are laid in childhood and youth. The habits acquired and experience gained in these life phases influence not only the physical and psychosocial development of the individual but also his or her future health.

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The Federal Office of Public Health has been active in the fields of prevention and health promotion in children and adolescents since 1990. Together with the Swiss Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Education, it developed the Swiss «Schools and Health» Network to disseminate knowledge of health promotion among children and adolescents in schools.
But even though such programmes help improve health in the majority of children, they do not reach the minority of about 20% who experience problematic psychosocial development. With a view to supporting these young people, the FOPH has been actively promoting early identification and early intervention services for more than ten years. The aim of this approach to secondary prevention is to identify vulnerable children and adolescents as early as possible, foster their development and improve their chances of social integration. The new Article 3c of the revised Narcotics Act creates the relevant legal framework by extending the scope for early intervention in the young people affected.
The health of young people – like that of adults – is by no means a matter of health policy alone.Though too often forgotten or even sacrificed to other interests, health is a matter of cardinal importance. It deserves a key role, not only in the healthcare sector, for instance in the national prevention programmes (tobacco, alcohol, nutrition and drugs) but also in non-healthcare-related areas such as spatial development or the economy.
Ensuring the good health of our children today means improving quality of life for the adults of tomorrow. In the light of demographic developments, it also means ensuring a long life for our healthcare system and our economy.

Ursula Koch and Roy Salveter, joint heads of the National Prevention Programmes Division, Federal Office of Public Health

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