Austrian Health Promotion Fund

In 1986, the WHO’s Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion defined health as a person’s overall sense of physical, emotional, and social well-being. Two years later, in 1988, committed health policymakers in Austria responded to this idea by establishing the Forum Gesundes Österreich (Forum for a Healthy Austria), which was later renamed the Fonds Gesundes Österreich (FGÖ), or the Austrian Health Promotion Fund. This organization was set up specifically to support health initiatives, and its initial tasks, limited in scope due to its modest budget, included the coordination and documentation of information on promoting health and self-help. In 1995, Austria’s accession to the European Union (EU) provided fresh impetus to the FGÖ’s work. Since 1996, member states of the EU have set up several transnational networks to foster cooperation and exchange experiences on various health promotion initiatives, and these networks have helped advance the field. The FGÖ has regularly participated in these activities.

While the health promotion movement gained traction at EU level, there was also renewed commitment at national level. A team of legislators and experts responded to this shift by drawing up a health promotion bill, which led to the current Health Promotion Act, passed by parliament in 1998. This Act adopted a holistic approach to health and expanded the FGÖ’s responsibilities and budget. 

The FGÖ is an autonomous body that is accountable to its board, which is chaired by the Minister of Health. The governing board is composed of representatives of the ministries of health, education, and finance, the Chamber of Pharmacists, and the Austrian Medical Chamber; health officials and governors representing the federal states; and members of the associations of communities and cities, the Main Association of Austrian Social Security Institutions, the Association of Private Insurance Companies, and the Association of Senior Citizens. 

The FGÖ has been assigned the responsibility to “maintain, promote, and improve  health in a holistic sense and at all stages of life” as well as to “provide education and information on avoidable diseases and on the emotional, mental, and social factors influencing health”. Effective from August 2006, the FGÖ is a subsidiary of Gesundheit Österreich GmbH (The Austrian National Public Health Institute), with its financing and governance rules unchanged. 

The Health Promotion Act defines the goals and strategies for using earmarked funds made available from VAT revenue and budgeted by the Federal Ministry of Health. Annual funds of €7.25 million allow coherent, long-term planning and implementation in the field of health promotion, education, and information.

The fundamental principles of health promotion are also at the heart of the ten Health Targets for Austria. The Austrian Health Targets are based on the health in all policies approach. Their declared goal is the improvement of the health of all people living in Austria regardless of their educational background, income, or the circumstances of their lives (health determinants), and particularly a sustainable increase in the number of their healthy years of life.

In accordance with the Health Promotion Act (1998), the FGÖ defines its role in the Austrian health promotion landscape as a national funding agency, competence center, and information hub. In its capacity as the national funding agency for health promotion projects in Austria and in cooperation with stakeholders and actors in health promotion, the FGÖ develops and disseminates knowledge, developing skills and quality in the field of health promotion. The FGÖ encourages knowledge transfer between practice, science, and politics in the domain of health promotion.

To ensure that they are used for their intended purpose, grants awarded for larger projects (more than €72,000) are reviewed by a scientific board and approved by the governing board, which includes stakeholders from various national, regional, and local authorities, social security institutions, and organizations for healthcare professionals. The FGÖ must conduct its long-term and annual planning to implement these measures and initiatives in a manner that takes the measures and initiatives undertaken by regional and local authorities into account. The FGÖ must produce and publish an annual business report which is made available to the public to ensure the necessary transparency and accountability of the FGÖ’s activities. 

The Act defines the goals and strategies for using earmarked funds made available from VAT revenue and budgeted by the Federal Ministry of Health.

The main areas of activity are defined along five programme lines: 1. Growing up healthy – the psychosocial health of children and adolescents; 2. Workplace Health Promotion – equal health opportunities in the workplace, digital transformation, workplace 4.0; 3. Communities – social support, participation, and cohesion in healthy neighborhoods – municipal health promotion; 4. Quality of life and equal health opportunities for older people; 5. Healthy lifestyle through intersectoral cooperation.

The following three guiding themes are dealt with and further developed as overarching issues in all five programme lines:

* psychosocial health – living together in settings to promote health

* health equity – developing knowledge and disseminating good practice. One of the main objectives of the FGÖ is to promote a reduction in health inequities.

* gender-appropriate health promotion and diversity

The FGÖ’s functional divisions are: project funding; advanced training and networking; capacity building and knowledge development; education, information, and distribution; ÖKUSS – the Austrian competence and service center for self-help (coordination and services); ÖPGK – the Austrian health literacy alliance (coordination and services).

Strategies used to achieve the FGÖ’s objectives include creating structures for health promotion and disease prevention; developing and commissioning relevant programmes and services for municipalities, cities, schools, businesses, and the public health care system; developing programmes for specific target groups to inform and advise them about healthy lifestyles, disease prevention, and strategies for coping with chronic diseases and crises; conducting scientific programmes to foster health promotion and disease prevention as well as epidemiology, evaluation, and quality assurance in this field; supporting the continuing education of people working in health promotion and disease prevention; and coordinating the measures and initiatives outlined in this Federal Act with existing activities in health promotion.


Fonds Gesundes Österreich. Available at:

Federal Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs, Health and Consumer Protection. (2019). The Austrian Health Care System / Key Facts. Available at:

Related reports

World Health Organization. (2004). The establishment and use of dedicated taxes for health. World Health Organization Regional Office for the Western Pacific.

Vathesatogkit P, Yen Lian T, Ritthipakdee B. (2013). Health Promotion: Sustainable Financing and Governance. Bangkok, Thai Health Promotion Foundation (ThaiHealth). 

World Health Organization. (2016). Earmarked tobacco taxes: lessons learnt from nine countries. Geneva, World Health Organization.

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