Health Promotion Switzerland

Health Promotion Switzerland is a semi-autonomous foundation established by an Act of Government (Federal Health Insurance Act of 1994). Established in 1989, it was originally known as “Swiss Foundation for Health Promotion” and later in 1998 “Foundation 19” when it was modeled to implement Article 19 of the Swiss Federal Health Insurance Act. It was renamed, “Health Promotion Switzerland” in 2002. 

The foundation is mandated through the Federal Health Insurance Act to initiate, coordinate and evaluate policies to promote health and prevent disease. Stipulated by law, the Foundation Council is composed of representatives from different interest groups within the Swiss healthcare system. These include the federal government, the cantons (states), Swiss health insurance companies, the Swiss Accident Insurance Fund (SUVA), medical and other healthcare professionals and public health researchers, agencies active in health promotion and consumer protection, as well as other partners. This governance structure facilitates key stakeholders to collaborate to promote health and improve the quality of life for the Swiss. 

Foundation Council members are proposed by the foundation and appointed by the Federal Department of Home Affairs for a four-year term. A scientific Advisory Board conducts knowledge-based strategic development and the assessment of activities. The foundation is accountable to the Federal Department of Home Affairs and, in practice, to both Committees for Social Security and Health of the Parliament (National Council, Council of States). It is semi-autonomous as health promotion agency legally established.

Generally, the Council decides how resources are allocated in order to contribute to the goals of the long-term strategy. The Federal Sickness Insurance Law from 1994 committed Swiss insurance companies and cantons to establish an institution for disease prevention and health promotion. Therefore, insurers and cantons hold the majority of seats in the council. 

Collaboration between government, foundation and private sector will ensure effective implementation of health promotion activities

Health Promotion Switzerland has about 30 full-time staff hired from all parts of Switzerland and from some other countries.  They are committed to achieving professional standards expected of one of Switzerland’s leading health promotion organizations.

Health Promotion Switzerland source of funding is derived from health insurance that imposes a surcharge of USD 2.6 per insuree. Each insuree is required to pay annually to invest in health promotion. This financing source was proposed during larger revisions of the Sickness Insurance Act in 1994. `Health or sickness insurance is mandatory in Switzerland. The amount of the funding varies, depending on the population size (number of insurees) and currently the annual budget accounts for USD19.4 million, which represents a small portion of the total amount spend on health promotion. In 2010, it was estimated that USD 1.61 billion was spent on “prevention” (including health promotion) by state agencies, cantons, municipalities, social insurances, private households and other private financing according to extrapolations of the Federal Office of Statistics.

The foundation has a vision to develop well-informed individuals, capable and motivated to living their lives in ways beneficial to their health and well-being and quality of life. This process is supported by the best possible societal structures. The foundation has a long term three-pronged strategy for 2007-2018 to achieve their goals: i) strengthen health promotion and prevention through institutional coordination and networking; ii) increasing the proportion of individuals with healthy body weight; and iii) improving mental health and reducing stress, focusing mainly at the workplace by better equipping more people to shape and control their lives. The underlying strategy processes involve members of the foundation council and also other major key stakeholders within the healthcare system.

It is envisaged that the health system in the near future will be unable to finance the health care demands and may lead to a financial crisis. Health promotion and prevention can be a powerful cost-effective way to reduce threat of a financial crisis. A Foundation can be part of the solution. Collaboration between government, foundation and private sector will ensure effective implementation of health promotion activities.


Somaini B. Health Promotion Switzerland on the Way to a Ideal Health Promotion Foundation. Presented at Presented at Regional Workshop on Strengthening Capacity for Health Promotion Foundations and Tobacco Control, Hanoi, Vietnam, 14-16 September 2010.

Health Promotion Switzerland. Welcome to Health Promotion Switzerland. Available at:

Laura K. Schang, Katarzyna M. Czabanowska, Vivian Lin. Securing funds for health promotion: lessons from health promotion foundations based on experiences from Austria, Australia, Germany, Hungary and Switzerland. Health Promotion International doi:10.1093/heapro/dar023, Oxford University Press, 2011.

Swiss Statistics. Costs of health care system by service provider / Costs of health care system by service type, 2012. 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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