21.02.2019 At first hand
Health starts in people’s everyday lives. The figures for life expectancy in Swiss towns and villages paint a clear picture. Residents of prosperous, primarily urban areas and conglomerations such as Zurich, Bern, Basel and Geneva, and along the country’s lakes, have a good chance of living a long life. In the communities where people are living longest, life expectancy is nearly 83. By contrast, the inhabitants of poorer, generally more rural communities and mountain villages can only expect to reach 78. As these figures show, not everyone in Switzerland has the same chance of living a life that is as long and healthy as possible.
However, the reasons for this disparity are less apparent. It is clear that the main cause is not hospital quality or access to healthcare professionals, but other factors such as education, income or marital status. Socially disadvantaged people are more likely to experience mental illnesses, including addiction disorders. Very often these people live in areas with higher noise and air pollution levels and fewer green spaces. People with a low income are also more likely to use tobacco. Not only do the poor and unemployed tend to have poorer health and a lower life expectancy, they are at much greater risk of developing a serious disease.
Health equity is one of our key priorities, and the FOPH partners with other federal offices to promote it. We do so because health does not just start with the healthcare sector, but with other policy areas too. The aim is to enable everyone who lives in our country to live their daily lives as healthily as possible, whether they are at home with their family, in school, at work or enjoying their leisure time. Looked at from this perspective, health is a responsibility shared by virtually all federal agencies. The FOPH is willing to help fellow agencies to devise solutions that have a positive impact on health and to expand existing partnerships.
Our shared goal is to improve the health of the Swiss population and health equity by working with all stakeholders capable of influencing them.
Pascal Strupler, Director Federal Office of Public Health