The Federal Office of Public Health is charged with a number of tasks aimed at protecting the population from disease and health hazards. Historically, the Office was active in health "protection" or " controlling " activities. However, with the development of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the Office became the natural leader for developing strategies to combat the spread of the disease. For the first time, therefore, it took on, and has since developed its role in prevention (as opposed to protection) and health promotion.
Given the many innovative projects developed by the Office, the need for ongoing evaluation was recognised, particularly as a policy development tool. Evaluation was therefore adopted as one of its tasks, and has gradually been integrated into the ongoing work of the Office since1992. Its revised "Mission Statement, published in 1992, states:
"The Swiss FOPH is committed to attaining a healthy standard of living for the population and makes a significant contribution towards this end. It measures the impact of its actions in terms of the overall development of the nation's health."
The combined data from epidemiology, research and evaluation provide the Office with the scientific evidence used to inform its health policy and strategy development.
An Evaluation Specialist Centre was set up in 1992 to mandate, manage and co-ordinate the evaluation studies attached to the Office's work in the fields of AIDS, Illegal and legal drugs harm reduction and prevention. An Evaluation Specialist Centre Centre is currently being developed to support the work of other Units and Divisions of the Office too.
For health projects and programmes, evaluation is encouraged at three levels: at a global level, the whole policy and its strategy is considered as a whole: socio-economic and political context, processes, results and impact. At a second level, evaluations are conducted on specific projects and programmes, taking into account the context in which they take place, and the particular stage of development they are at. At a third level, the Office encourages the self-evaluation of interventions it sponsors, as well as of its own work.
The list of ongoing projects and available reports can be found under http://www.admin.ch/bag/sucht/publist/x/publists.htm#Suchtforschung