All spectra article in the last 12 years in chronological order


Prevention rather than cure: National Strategy for the Prevention of Non-communicable Diseases

Prevention. The Swiss government and cantons have approved a national strategy for preventing and combating non-communicable diseases. Some 2.2 million people in Switzerland currently suffer from one or more chronic diseases, generating around 80 percent of the country's entire health-related costs. The objective of the strategy is to prevent or delay the development of conditions such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes and to mitigate their consequences. It builds on existing prevention activities and bundles the resources of all the players involved. Appropriate measures will be drawn up by the end of the year. more


At first hand

Editorial Diane Steber Büchli. Towards the end of the 20th century, illicit drugs became a serious public health problem in Switzerland, gaining widespread attention due to impoverished drug addicts and open drug scenes. To protect public health as well as public safety and security, professionals and politicians developed a multidisciplinary approach to the drug problem in the shape of the so-called "four-pillar policy", focussing on the pillars prevention, treatment, harm reduction and law enforcement. Many of the bold and innovative measures of the Swiss approach– needle exchange, injection rooms, substitution therapy with methadone and, in particular, heroin-assisted treatment – generated great interest and were taken up in other countries, too. more


An opportunity for key shifts in international drug policy

UNGASS 2016. Eighteen years after its last Special Session on the topic of illicit drugs, the General Assembly of the United Nations has an opportunity to take ground-breaking decisions on international drug policy at a new Special Session scheduled for April 2016. Does it want to do so? Can it do so? What are its chances of success? more


Improved access and respect for human rights in the treatment of opioid dependence

Pompidou Group. In many countries, the prescription of opioid medicines such as methadone or buprenorphine is subject to rigorous restrictions. An expert group of the Council of Europe's Pompidou Group, the international cooperation group to combat drug abuse and illicit trafficking in drugs, has now spoken out in favour of a paradigm shift: decisions to permit or prohibit the prescription of opioid medicines should be based on scientific findings and respect for human rights rather than on a repression-oriented approach. These medicines are the best possible treatment for large numbers of dependent opioid users, and therefore, in compliance with human rights, access to them should not be withheld or subjected to restrictions. On Switzerland's initiative, the experts nominated by participating Pompidou Group Member States are drawing up guidelines to help member states review their regulations on this form of therapy. Switzerland has been mandated to head this project. more


Ruth Dreifuss: "What I expect from this year's UNGASS is, above all, honesty"

Interview with Ruth Dreifuss. After an interval of 18 years, a second United Nations Special Session (UNGASS) on the World Drug Problem is to be held in New York in April 2016. Former government minister Ruth Dreifuss represented Switzerland at the 1998 Special Session as health minister. She will now be attending an UNGASS for the second time. We asked Ms Dreifuss what had changed since 1998. more


Bending a cigarette communicates successful smoking cessation

SmokeFree Campaign 2016. The spring phase of the current SmokeFree campaign focuses on success in quitting smoking: it encourages smokers to draw up a concrete plan of action for kicking the habit and it aims to activate families and friends increasingly into providing support for people who want to stop smoking. To this end, it draws smokers' attention to effective assistance services such as the SmokeFree Buddy app. The campaign is financed by the Tobacco Prevention Fund. more


Switzerland's health-related foreign policy: which objectives does it pursue and what has it already achieved?

Swiss Health Foreign Policy. The process of globalisation and the internationalisation of the public health sector generate a great demand for coordination between health, foreign and development policies. In order to ensure Switzerland’s capability to be a convincing partner with a coherent position and to represent its interests in the best way possible, the Swiss Health Foreign Policy (HFP) was approved in 2012 to serve as an instrument for this coordination. Thematic areas such as transport, environment, energy, security and global health are increasingly important topics in international relations. They play a substantial role in the sustainable development of societies, and can therefore no longer be addressed in isolation – nor be restricted to a state’s territory. Thanks to its HFP, Switzerland is well equipped to formulate and implement a coordinated and coherent health policy approach at both national and international levels. In addition, health is a useful tool for strengthening and further developing our international relations with key partners. more


At first hand

Editorial Tania Dussey-Cavassini. The health problems of a specific population are not confined to its residential area. Viruses, for instance, do not have passports, nor do national borders stop them from spreading. more


«People make behavioural choices, we cannot deny that. But the creation of the environment is part of the State’s responsibility.»

Interview with Gauden Galea. Federal and Cantonal authorities joined Swiss Health Promotion on June 22nd at the NCD Stakeholders' Event to present and discuss a draft for a National Noncommunicable Diseases Prevention Strategy. Dr Gauden Galea, Director, Division of Noncommunicable Diseases and Promoting Health through the Lifecourse, WHO Regional Office for Europe, travelled from Copenhagen in order to show admiration for the Swiss model from the international perspective. Galea had special praise for the integrative aspects of the Swiss Strategy Draft, its solid basis on evidence, emphasis on prevention, and inclusion of economically disadvantaged and vulnerable population groups. He also commends the consultative and participatory process. more


WHO physical activity strategy launched

WHO/Europe. In September, the WHO Regional Office for Europe approved the physical activity strategy for the WHO European Region 2016-2025 – the WHO's first ever strategy on physical activity. Its target is to bring about a 10% reduction in physical inactivity among the population of Europe by 2025. Switzerland has played a major role in developing the WHO strategy and has already been active for years in the five priority areas that the WHO has defined. What are the WHO's goals and what has Switzerland already achieved in this respect? A comparison. more