Healthcare-associated infections (NOSO Strategy)

The number of healthcare-associated infections in Switzerland is to be reduced. This is the goal of the National Strategy for the Monitoring, Prevention and Control of Healthcare-Associated Infections (NOSO strategy), which the Federal Council has adopted.  

Doing more about healthcare-associated infections

An estimated 70,000 people acquire healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) in Swiss hospitals every year, some 2,000 of whom die. A national strategy targeting such infections – the NOSO strategy – was launched in March 2016. While many measures already exist, what have so far been lacking are coordination, consistent implementation and better nationwide surveillance of the situation. The same applies to the generally applicable regulations, such as minimum hygiene requirements in healthcare facilities. There is also a need for instruments for prevention and nationwide implementation monitoring.

Many healthcare-associated infections are avoidable

HAIs particularly affect the urinary and respiratory tracts, or occur as surgical site infections, and as bloodstream infections. Between 35 and 55 per cent of cases can be avoided with targeted prevention and surveillance measures. The federal government therefore intends to improve public health protection by reducing the number of infections and the associated long-term effects and deaths. These efforts are based on the Federal Council’s health policy strategy (Health2020) and the revised Epidemics Act, which came into force on 1 January 2016. The NOSO strategy builds on existing structures and measures, defines responsibilities and contributes to the coordination of prevention and control objectives.

Four fields of action

The strategy paper is based on four action areas: governance, monitoring, prevention & control and education & research. A strategic objective is defined for each one. The strategic objectives are to be achieved through a set of 14 key measures. For example, the governance action area includes plans to review existing standards and develop uniform guidelines for the whole of Switzerland. In terms of monitoring, a national surveillance system is to be developed. For better prevention and control of HAIs, awareness-raising measures will target healthcare staff, as well as hospital patients, care home residents and visitors. Finally, staff at healthcare facilities are to receive training where necessary on infection prevention.

Adoption by the Federal Council and implementation

The Federal Council adopted the NOSO strategy on 23 March 2016 and mandated the FOPH to implement it. The measures are implemented in collaboration with the cantons, hospitals, care homes and other key actors. The strategy objective – a significant and lasting reduction in HAIs – can only be achieved through broad-scale implementation and the involvement of all stakeholders.

Healthcare-associated infections in outpatient settings

In parallel to implementation of the NOSO strategy, the FOPH is currently investigating the significance of healthcare-associated infections in outpatient settings.

The preliminary study including an assessment of the situation and action required can be found under "documents".

Press releases

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Further informations

Quality and patient safety

Despite the good standard of health care in Switzerland, there is room for improvement in terms of quality and patient safety.

National Vaccination Strategy (NVS)

The Confederation, together with the cantons and other stakeholders, has drawn up a national vaccination strategy (NVS) with the aim of guaranteeing that the population is sufficiently protected from vaccine-preventable diseases.

Last modification 21.02.2019

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Federal Office of Public Health FOPH
Division of Communicable Diseases
Schwarzenburgstrasse 157
3003 Berne
Switzerland
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