Prevention and health protection
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Within public health protection, we carry out disease prevention activities, health promotion activities, life-prolonging activities, and activities for reducing inequality in health with the help of organised measures in society. Through the ‘health for all’ principle, we strive to reduce the burden of disease for individuals and the entire society and we provide an effective system for monitoring health concerns, their early discovery, risk assessment, and suitable response to these concerns which originate in local environments or are global.
Public health studies the possibilities for improving the health of the population. It encounters numerous challenges, such as controlling communicable diseases, which are joined by new, previously managed diseases (e.g. tuberculosis, HIV), chronic non-communicable diseases – including an increase in diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular diseases and cancers, increased inequalities in health between different social groups, and the ageing of the population and the extending of life expectancy, which all require greater investments in prevention.
These challenges result in a need for change in terms of re-structuring of healthcare systems and medical services, which should be more focused on preserving and promoting health and on the early discovery of diseases. Measures and activities at various levels can help improve the health of the population: individuals who are empowered and informed assume responsibility for their own health; workers who ensure safe and healthy working conditions; local communities which ensure conditions for a high-quality lifestyle; non-governmental organisations which are advocates for health and patient rights; and the state with its policies and legislation.
In order to provide effective health protection, we are responsible for the required legislative framework and control over the implementation of regulations, for example in controlling communicable diseases, risky behaviours, ensuring the suitability of water for drinking and bathing, suitability of food, cosmetics, and general use items, and ensuring the protection and promotion of physical and mental health at work and in everyday life.
Preventing risky behaviours and addiction
Risky behaviours, such as using tobacco and tobacco-related products, risky and harmful alcohol consumption, and the use of illicit drugs can be a major burden for society and individuals, as well as for the healthcare system, as they are often connected to morbidity and early mortality, poorer educational achievements, greater probability of social, behavioural, physical, and mental issues, and other negative consequences. For this reason, we carefully monitor the incidence of risky behaviour and addiction, we make policies and adopt measures to prevent them, and we co-fund programmes of non-governmental organisations.
We include various measures and prevention activities in the tobacco policy by way of which we attempt to mitigate the adverse effects of smoking and reduce the use of tobacco and tobacco-related products. We put a lot of effort into implementing measures and other prevention and promotional activities for preventing risky and harmful alcohol consumption among children and youth as well as among adults.
Within the National Programme, we carry out activities in the field of illicit drugs for reducing and limiting the damage posed by their use to individuals and society. We would also like to contribute to preventing the use and supply of drugs in SE Europe and the broader European territory and to fulfillthe commitments that Slovenia has towards the international community and international organisations.
Communicable and non-communicable diseases
Communicable diseases are still a significant public health concern. Social change, an increase in population numbers, globalisation, and the resulting significantly greater mobility of the population require that health protection measures be adjusted in order to provide protection from communicable diseases and the introduction of new methods for preventing and controlling communicable diseases.
The measures for preventing and controlling communicable diseases are set forth by the Contagious Diseases Act (ZNB) and the regulations governing the health suitability of drinking water, food, and general use items, the suitable air quality in enclosed areas, sanitary technical and sanitary hygienic maintenance of public facilities, public means of transport and public areas, and waste management. The Contagious Diseases Act also lays down particular measures, which include health education and counselling, early discovery of the source of infection and patients suffering from communicable diseases, reporting communicable diseases and epidemics, quarantine, vaccination, and chemoprophylaxis.
For diseases that cannot be prevented, early discovery through screening programmes is particularly vital. Many diseases can be discovered and treated on time through regular preventive examinations. In the field of early cancer discovery, citizens can participate in screening programmes for cervical cancer (the ZORA programme), breast cancer (the DORA programme), and colorectal cancer (the Svit programme).
Health protection and promotion
The principle that each euro invested in prevention is the best long-term investment is gaining more and more recognition. Healthy nutrition, regular physical activity, and looking after mental health are the key factors in health protection and promotion, which contribute to a greater quality of life and the sustainability of healthcare systems. The National Programme on Nutrition and Physical Activity for Health is a strategic and comprehensive framework by way of which we wish to improve the eating habits and increase the physical activities of people in Slovenia, from their earliest period of life until old age. It defines specific and measurable goals, which we wish to use to stop and reverse the trend of growing obesity in Slovenia and thus affect the lesser incidence of chronic non-communicable diseases.