Overview Prevention

A great number of diseases, and the concomitant health care expenditure, could be avoided with the corresponding prevention measures. This is why the Federal Ministry of Health lays special store by the improvement of prevention in Germany. The various initiatives and national action plans are, in part, conducted in collaboration with other ministries.

Representative studies indicate that unbalanced nutrition and insufficient physical activity are significant problems in Germany. This increases the danger of diseases. With the 'National Action Plan to Prevent the Lack of Physical Activity and Malnutrition', the Federal Government is seeking to make it possible for children to grow up healthier, for adults to have a healthier life-style and for everyone to enjoy a higher quality of life and greater productivity. Diseases which are caused, among other factors, by an unhealthy lifestyle, a one-sided diet and a lack of physical activity, need to be reduced drastically.

The National Action Plan IN FORM aims at further improving the knowledge about the interrelations of well-balanced diet, sufficient physical activity and one's health, at motivating citizens to adapt a healthy lifestyle and at creating outline conditions liable to support every individual in assuming personal responsibility for his or her own health and the health of his or her family members.

IN FORM merges the already existing broad range of initiatives by the Federal Government, the Laender, local authorities and civil society in a national strategy. Co-operations are intensified, viable approaches are disseminated, networks are supported, and in this way synergies are used.

Whereas, in the first three years (2008 to 2011), the exemplary testing within the scope of projects was to the fore, the sustainability and consistency of measures as well as the dissemination of results has been prioritized to a large extent as of 2012.

More information can be found on the internet at www.in-form.de.

Eating disorders and the serious diseases associated with it such as anorexia, bulimia (binge-eating disorder) and obesity are increasing dramatically in our society. Most affected are young people, especially girls and women. According to the German Health Survey for Children and Adolescents (KiGGS) conducted by the Robert Koch Institute, one out of five children be-tween the ages of 11 and 17 shows symptoms of an eating disorder.

This is where the initiative 'Life has Weight – Together Against Slimming Mania' takes its cue. It was launched in 2007 by the Federal Ministery of Health with the Federal Ministery of Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Womene and Youth and the Federal Ministery of Education and Research.

The goal is to transport a positive body image to young people and strengthen their self-esteem for example by means of awareness-building among the public and various prevention measures.

The differences between women and men are not only biological in nature. Both women and men are influenced by society and their role in it. Sex as well as gender has a high impact on the health status of individuals.

For Women's Health, it is important to consider physical, psychological and social aspects. Consequently, all stages of life and all age groups must be kept in mind. 

Women's health policy needs to deal with the following questions:

  • How can women stay healthy?
  • What are the potential health risks for women?
  • What does this knowledge mean for the prevention, diagnosis, therapy and rehabilitation of diseases?

The German Federal Ministry of Health is currently dealing with these questions. Very important topics are diseases which occur more frequently in women or have a more serious clinical outcome. The Ministry is also focusing on the influence which social factors exert on women's health and on health risks and diseases which affect women exclusively. In this context, it is important to take women's different life situations as well as different age groups into consideration. Prevention measures should begin as early as possible in life – and it is never too late to start!

There are also diseases which are especially important for men. Men die more often of cardiovascular diseases and the suicide rate is higher among men than among women. The challenges which men face in society are different from those faced by women. Men run a far higher risk of being injured or killed in (car) accidents than do women. Men's health policy needs to deal with the following questions as well:

  • How can men stay healthy?
  • What are the potential health risks for men?
  • What does this knowledge mean for the prevention, diagnosis, therapy and rehabilitation of diseases?

The German Federal Ministry of Health is considering these circumstances surrounding men's health and is striving to improve their health situation. A very important aspect is workplace health promotion. For the reasons mentioned, prevention, prevention measures and health promotion need to be gender-specific.

In general, the health status of children and young people in Germany is good. However, the chances of living a healthy life without disease and impairments are not distributed equally. Especially children from socially disadvantaged families face a higher health risk as a result of their family's lifestyle and life circumstances.

This is why the Federal Government implemented the 'Strategy of the Federal Government for the Promotion of Child Health'. The Strategy is based on the results of the German Health Survey for Children and Adolescents (KiGGS). This was the first survey to compile comprehensive and representative data on the health, health-related behaviour and health care provision of children and young people in Germany.

http://www.kiggs-studie.de/english/home.html

By international comparison, the figures of new HIV infections in Germany are very low. Responsible for this success is a consistent, long-term oriented prevention strategy which is divided into governmental and non-governmental prevention activities. Thereby it is possible to reach the general population as well as groups vulnerable to HIV. Awareness to take preventive measures within the population is high and inhibitions regarding early HIV-testing have decreased.

For more than 25 years the German Federal Government is engaging in the response to HIV and AIDS. Of principal concern for the strategy are preventing new infections and demonstrating solidarity and providing support to people who live with HIV and AIDS. The strategy is based on human rights principles such as the respect for human dignity, gender equality and non-discrimination.

The Federal Ministry of Health (BMG) manages the implementation of the HIV and AIDS strategy and continuously develops it. The BMG also coordinates cooperation between the German Government, the German states, municipalities and civil society in this area and represents the German Government in European and international organizations involved in the response to HIV and AIDS.

Since 1985, the German Government has made considerable funding available to inform the public in general and high-risk groups in particular about how HIV is transmitted and how people can protect themselves from infection. In addition, Sexually transmitted Infections (STI) are being systematically integrated in the measures for the prevention and control of HIV.  

As a result of the long-standing nationwide campaign “Don’t give AIDS a chance”, the inclusion of non-prejudicial HIV prevention in school curricula, and measures specifically geared to particular target groups, nearly everyone in Germany is informed of the risk of infection and knows what measures they can take to protect themselves.

For further information about HIV/AIDS see the website www.aidshilfe.de and the website of the Federal Centre for Health Education (BZgA).