Disease prevention and health promotion at global level

Smoking, high-risk alcohol use, lack of exercise and poor diet are the main causes of chronic diseases both in Switzerland and worldwide. For this reason, Switzerland is involved in the WHO’s global and European action plans on these issues.

Causes of the main non-communicable diseases

According to the WHO, non-communicable diseases – notably cardiovascular disorders, cancer, diabetes and respiratory disorders – are the leading cause of death worldwide. Some 33 million people die prematurely of such diseases every year. The main causes of these diseases include smoking, high-risk alcohol use, lack of exercise and a diet high in fat, sugar or salt.

UN recognition of the problem and WHO Action Plan

Since 2011, non-communicable diseases have been recognised by the UN as “a global burden and threat, posing one of the major challenges for development in the twenty-first century”. Non-communicable diseases and their causes are being addressed by the WHO’s Global Action Plan for the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases. This plan is concerned with both prevention and treatment, defining objectives to achieve “a world free of the avoidable burden of non-communicable diseases”.

Last modification 23.08.2023

Top of page


Federal Office of Public Health FOPH
Prevention of non-communicable diseases Division
Schwarzenburgstrasse 157
3003 Bern
Tel. +41 58 463 88 24

Print contact