Non-communicable diseases (NCD) such as diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular diseases are widespread. They affect 2.2 million people in Switzerland. NCDs are responsible for 80 percent of the costs incurred in the healthcare system and additionally cause estimated indirect costs of some CHF 30 billion annually as a result of lost working time, care provided by relatives and early retirement.
The National Strategy for Prevention approved by the Federal Council and the cantons aims to prevent or delay the occurrence of non-communicable diseases or to reduce their subsequent impact. This strategy is not the first attempt that has been made to reinforce prevention. Prevention legislation proposed by the Federal Council was rejected by Parliament in 2012.
The three major elements of the strategy are:
- improvement of cooperation between the different stakeholders involved in prevention
- reinforcement of health management in the workplace
- embedding of prevention in healthcare
Investment is decisive
Nowadays, cardiovascular diseases and cancer are the most common causes of death in Switzerland, but in the future they will be overtaken mainly by age-related diseases that will become more prevalent as the population ages. At the same time, it will be more common for several diseases to occur simultaneously, making the process of recovery more burdensome and time-consuming.
If the later years are to be spent in good health, investment is needed in effective and efficient measures in all areas of healthcare – in health promotion, prevention and curative medicine alike. This will not only help to prevent people becoming ill but will also avoid or delay the need for nursing care. This is an important cost factor since it is more expensive to treat diseases than to invest in preventive measures. Moreover, medical and therapeutic innovations will play an increasingly important part in ensuring high-quality and cost-efficient care.