The Institute of Public Health of Ljubljana
PROTECTION AND PROMOTION OF HEALTH
»The art of healing can ease many pains, but the art of preventing the onset of diseases is even more beautiful.«
Max von Pettenkofer (1818 – 1901)
The basic principle and importance of primary prevention in the context of medical practice is the fact that public health with all its disciplines – hygiene, social medicine, epidemiology – is a basic medical science, which aims to protect the health of individuals and the population. Health-beneficial habits have been known for ages and they testify to the fact that people have always felt the need to maintain and improve their health. Thousand years of experience give evidence of how some hygienic and anti-epidemic measures have been implemented.
The Institute of Public Health of Ljubljana has a successful and long history. It was established to cover the needs arising from health care, hygienic, social and other conditions at the beginning of the 20th century. As the successor of the City Institute of Hygiene and Disease Prevention, the Hygiene Centre and the Central Institute for Healthcare from the period between both World Wars, it has long history and tradition. In its present form was founded in 1992.
The Institute exercises the national strategic policies in the field of preventive medicine and public health on the regional level.
The interaction of theory and praxis in public health care with the health condition of the population is preserved in its original form in infectious diseases. In recent years more and more activities are directed towards prevention of non-communicable chronic diseases, which include cardiovascular diseases, cancer and many others, which mainly affect the population in the developed world, which Slovenia is now part of. People acquire many unhealthy habits: working in a sitting position, physical inactivity, inappropriate diet, smoking, alcohol and drug abuse. An increasing number of different factors affect health: social and economic circumstances, new working technologies, information and communication revolution and the poisoning of the environment. Recently the definition of health has extended: a condition of complete physical, psychological and social well-being, which shows in the capability of constant adaptation to the environment. It is often necessary to adapt primary preventive scheme to current social and economic changes.
The basic principle of primary prevention is thus the protection and promotion of health. Primary prevention can be divided into: general primary prevention (general measures for improvement and strengthening of health; issues related to water, air and pollution, communal problems, transport); environmental care, where people are not harmed and do not harm others (sanitary protection of environment, preventive disinfection, disinsectization and pest extermination); special primary prevention (specific measures for the protection of the population, the programme of obligatory vaccination, fluorography, salt iodization etc).