Thomas Zeltner

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Thomas Zeltner
Born (1947-11-15) November 15, 1947 (age 75)
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 referendums. [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 to 2022 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

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Harm reduction</span> Public health policies designed to lessen the negative consequences associated with human behavior

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 is used to decrease negative consequences of recreational drug use and sexual activity without requiring abstinence, recognizing that those unable or unwilling to stop can still make positive change to protect themselves and others.

Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) is an international nonprofit organization advocacy and education organization with focus on drug policy, war on drugs, marijuana legalization, psychedelics, juvenile justice and youth rights, drug decriminalization, criminal justice reform. SSDP promotes global youth civic engagement as a tool in reforming drug policy.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Drug Policy Alliance</span> American non-profit advocacy-organization

The Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) is a New York City–based nonprofit organization that seeks to advance policies that “reduce the harms of both drug use and drug prohibition, and to promote the sovereignty of individuals over their minds and bodies” The organization prioritizes reducing the role of criminalization in drug policy, advocating for the legal regulation of marijuana, and promoting health-centered drug policies. DPA has been led by executive director Kassandra Frederique since September 2020.

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Anti-Narcotics Force</span> Federal executive bureau of Pakistan

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 the umbrella of Pakistan Army and Ministry of Narcotics Control (Pakistan) of which Shahzain Bugti is the minister since March 2022. Due to misconception on Section 4 of ANF ACT 1997, the force's head consisted of 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 Muhammad Aniq Ur Rehman Malik is deputed as Director-General. The ANF also has sole responsibility for coordinating 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 use of 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 regarding the control and regulation of psychoactive substances, particularly those that are addictive or cause physical and mental dependence. While drug policies are generally implemented by governments, entities at all levels may have specific policies related to drugs.

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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 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.

Gerry Stimson is a British public health social scientist, emeritus professor at Imperial College London from 2004, and an honorary professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine from 2017. Stimson has over 220 scientific publications mainly on social and health aspects of illicit drug use, including HIV infection. He has sat on numerous editorial boards including AIDS, Addiction, and European Addiction Research, and with Tim Rhodes he was the co-editor-in-chief of the International Journal of Drug Policy from 2000 to 2016. He is one of the global leaders for research on and later advocacy for harm reduction.

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References

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