Thomas Zeltner

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Thomas Zeltner
Born (1947-11-15) November 15, 1947 (age 72)
NationalitySwiss
OccupationChairman WHO Foundation, physician, lawyer, and former Secretary of Health of Switzerland
Known forChairman WHO Foundation; Former Secretary of Health of Switzerland; co-founder of the Global Patient Safety Forum; Professor of Public Health at the University of Berne, Switzerland; Visiting Scientist at the Harvard School of Public Health; President of the Swiss Commission for UNESCO; and Board Member of the Medical University of Vienna

Thomas Zeltner (born 1947 in Berne, Switzerland) is a Swiss physician, lawyer, and current Chairman and interim CEO of the WHO Foundation [1] . He was also the former Secretary of Health of Switzerland Federal Department of Home Affairs FDHA. He has a long history in public health and has repeatedly been ranked among the 12 most influential political figures of Switzerland. [2]

Contents

Zeltner is Professor at the University of Berne, Switzerland, in Public Health and Visiting Scientist at the Harvard School of Public Health. He chairs the Swiss Research Institute for Public Health and Addiction (Zürich) and is President of UNESCO Commission of Switzerland. He advises the Swiss government in the implementation and future development of The National Health Policy. He is also the Vice Chair of the University Council of the Medical University of Vienna.

Past

Zeltner graduated with an M.D. and an LL.M. (master's in law) from the University of Berne. He specialized in human pathology and forensic medicine before becoming the head of Medical Services at the Bern University Hospital. He held various faculty positions at the University of Bern and at the Harvard School of Public Health. He is Doctor of law (honoris causa) of the University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland.

In 1991, the Swiss Government appointed Zeltner as the 8th Director-General of the Swiss National Health Authority and Secretary of Health of Switzerland, a position he held until the end of 2009.

Under Zeltner's leadership, Switzerland developed in 1991 a pioneering illicit drug policy, which has received global attention. It is based on a 4-pillar strategy (prevention, harm reduction, therapy, and law enforcement), which is enshrined in the Swiss law on narcotic drugs. The harm reduction policy of Switzerland – which includes large-scale syringe exchange programs (also in prisons) [3] and the medical prescription of heroin for chronic heroin addicts – was introduced against the strong opposition of the UN drug control authorities, [4] but endorsed by a majority of the Swiss population in several popular referenda. [5]

In 1999-2000, at the request of the then-Director General of WHO, Gro Harlem Brundtland, Zeltner chaired a committee which investigated the efforts of multinational tobacco companies to undermine tobacco control activities of the World Health Organization (2000). [6] This landmark report marks the beginning of the development of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (2003). [7] With his efforts to reduce tobacco consumption in Switzerland, Zeltner became a favorite adversary of big tobacco and was nicknamed “the Tobacco Taliban." [8]

As director of the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health, he presided over changes to transform the regulated market model of the Swiss health care sector into a more value- and consumer-driven health care system. The Swiss model guarantees access to affordable insurance to all, even if they have pre-existing medical problems. All residents are required to buy insurance even if they are currently healthy, so that the risk pool remains reasonably favorable. Finally subsidies are given to low income families to pay for their premiums. Even though the Swiss pay 12.18% of the GDP for health (data 2018), [9] a majority of 78% considers that the system works well or very well. [10] The Swiss health care model is gaining increased international interest, particularly in the U.S. [11]

Zeltner was a member and Vice-President of the Executive Board of the World Health Organization (WHO) (1999-2002). He chaired the committee to reform the governance rules of the WHO in 2002-4. He was also Executive President of the WHO Regional Committee for Europe (1994–95) and Chairman of the Governing Council of the International Agency for Research on Cancer, (1998-2000). Between 2012 and 2014, Zeltner served the World Health Organization (WHO) in the capacity of a Special Envoy. [12] In this function he advised the Director General of WHO, Margaret Chan, in critical areas of the ongoing reform of this UN agency [13] [14] . The work was successfully completed by adoption of the Framework of Engagement with Non-State Actors (FENSA) by the World Health Assembly in May 2016.

Current position

In 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced [15] that Zeltner was one of the founding board members and the first chairman of the WHO Foundation. As of May 2020, Zeltner is acting as interim CEO of the WHO Foundation. [16] The WHO Foundation is an independent grant-making foundation focused on addressing the most pressing global health challenges of today and tomorrow [17] .

He is co-founder of the Global Patient Safety Forum, a convening organization of world patient safety organizations; and a member of the steering board of the Global Patient Safety Challenge, Medication Safety, of the World Health Organization. He is a member of the editorial board of the journal Health Systems and Reform.

Since 1992, he has been Professor of Public Health at the University of Berne and is a Visiting Scientist at the Harvard School of Public Health (Boston). From 2018-22 he serves as a member of the Board of the Medical University of Vienna (Austria). Zeltner has served as Chairman of the board of the health insurer KPT until 2020, the leading online insurance company in Switzerland, which is repeatedly qualified as the best health insurer of Switzerland. [18] He is also president of Blood Transfusion CRS Switzerland, the organization in charge of securing Switzerland's provision with blood and blood products.

Related Research Articles

Harm reduction

Harm reduction, or harm minimization, refers to a range of public health policies designed to lessen the negative social and/or physical consequences associated with various human behaviors, both legal and illegal. Harm reduction policies are used to manage behaviors such as recreational drug use and sexual activity in numerous settings that range from services through to geographical regions.

WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control

The World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control is a treaty adopted by the 56th World Health Assembly held in Geneva, Switzerland on 21 May 2003. It became the first World Health Organization treaty adopted under article 19 of the WHO constitution. The treaty came into force on 27 February 2005. It had been signed by 168 countries and is legally binding in 181 ratifying countries. There are currently 15 United Nations member states that are non-parties to the treaty.

Abdol Hamid Ghodse was an academic in the field of substance abuse and addiction.

Julio Frenk

Julio José Frenk Mora, a Mexican physician and former secretary of Health of Mexico, is currently the president of the University of Miami. He is the University of Miami's first Hispanic and native Spanish-speaking president. Frenk formerly served as dean of the faculty and T & G Angelopoulos professor of public health and international development at the Harvard School of Public Health, from 2009 to 2015, where he had been the university's first Hispanic and native Spanish-speaking dean.

Drug policy reform, also known as drug law reform, is any proposed changes to the way governments respond to the socio-cultural influence on perception of psychoactive substance use. Proponents of drug policy reform believe that prohibition of drugs—such as cannabis, opioids, cocaine, amphetamines and hallucinogens—has been ineffectual and counterproductive. They argue that, rather than using laws and enforcement as the primary means to responding to substance use, governments and citizens would be better served by reducing harm and regulating the production, marketing, and distribution of currently illegal drugs in a manner similar to how alcohol and tobacco are regulated.

Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) is the name of a number of autonomous pressure groups (charities) that seek to publicize the risks associated with tobacco smoking and campaign for greater restrictions on cigarette and tobacco sales.

The Anti-Narcotics Force is a Federal Executive bureau of the Government of Pakistan, tasked with combating the narcotics smuggling and use within Pakistan. ANF works under umbrella of Pakistan Army and Ministry of Narcotics Control (Pakistan) of which Shehryar Khan Afridi is minister since 11 June 2019. Due to misconception on Section 4 of ANF ACT 1997, the force's head consisted the active-duty general officer of Pakistan Army. Although the law prescribes that any competent person may be appointed as Director General. Currently a two star Army Officer, Major general Arif Malik HI(M) is deputed as Director General. The ANF also has sole responsibility for co-ordinating and pursuing Pakistan narcotics investigations abroad.

Tobacco harm reduction (THR) is a public health strategy to lower the health risks to individuals and wider society associated with using tobacco products. It is an example of the concept of harm reduction, a strategy for dealing with the abuse of other drugs. Tobacco smoking is widely acknowledged as a leading cause of illness and death, and reducing smoking is vital to public health.

A drug policy is the policy, usually of a government, regarding the control and regulation of psychoactive substances, particularly those that are addictive or cause physical and mental dependence. Governments try to combat drug addiction or dependence with policies that address both the demand and supply of drugs, as well as policies that mitigate the harms of drug use, and for medical treatment. Demand reduction measures include voluntary treatment, rehabilitation, substitution therapy, overdose management, alternatives to incarceration for drug related minor offenses, medical prescription of drugs, awareness campaigns, community social services, and support for families. Supply side reduction involves measures such as enacting foreign policy aimed at eradicating the international cultivation of plants used to make drugs and interception of drug trafficking, fines for drug offenses, incarceration for persons convicted for drug offenses. Policies that help mitigate drug use include needle syringe programs and drug substitution programs, and free facilities for testing a drug's purity.

Drug liberalization is the process of eliminating or reducing drug prohibition laws. Variations of drug liberalization include: drug legalization, drug relegalization and drug decriminalization.

Illicit drug use in Australia is the recreational use of prohibited drugs in Australia. Illicit drugs include illegal drugs, pharmaceutical drugs when used for non-medical purposes, and other substances used inappropriately. According to government and community organisations, the use and abuse, and the illegality, of illicit drugs is a social, health and legal issue that creates an annual illegal market estimated to be worth A$6.7 billion.

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The Ministry of National Health Services, Regulation and Coordination is a cabinet level ministry of the Government of Pakistan with responsibility for national public health.

Tobacco control

Tobacco control is a field of international public health science, policy and practice dedicated to addressing tobacco use and thereby reducing the morbidity and mortality it causes. Since most cigarettes and cigars and hookahs contain/use tobacco tobacco control also impacts these. E-cigarettes do not contain tobacco itself, but (often) do contain nicotine. Tobacco control is a priority area for the World Health Organization (WHO), through the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. References to a tobacco control movement may have either positive or negative connotations.

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Ann McNeill

Professor Ann McNeill is a British academic and tobacco policy expert. She is currently a Professor of Tobacco Addiction in the National Addictions Centre at the King's College London Institute of Psychiatry and Deputy Director of the UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies.

The scientific community in United States and Europe are primarily concerned with the possible effect of electronic cigarette use on public health. There is concern among public health experts that e-cigarettes could renormalize smoking, weaken measures to control tobacco, and serve as a gateway for smoking among youth. The public health community is divided over whether to support e-cigarettes, because their safety and efficacy for quitting smoking is unclear. Many in the public health community acknowledge the potential for their quitting smoking and decreasing harm benefits, but there remains a concern over their long-term safety and potential for a new era of users to get addicted to nicotine and then tobacco. There is concern among tobacco control academics and advocates that prevalent universal vaping "will bring its own distinct but as yet unknown health risks in the same way tobacco smoking did, as a result of chronic exposure", among other things.

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FAAAT think & do tank

For Alternative Approaches to Addiction, Think & do tank (FAAAT), often shortened to FAAAT think & do tank, is an international non-profit organization created in 2015 and registered in France, with office in Paris (France). In May 2019 the organization started the process towards the discontinuation of its activities on 31 December 2019.

References

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