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Institute of Public Health (IPH)


The Institute of Public Health (IPH) at the Università della Svizzera italiana is an inter-faculty institute dedicated to teaching, research and service activities in the public health sciences and its component disciplines. The IPH is the focal point, the main actor, and the public health contact point of USI. IPH's vision echoes the ultimate goal of global public health - a better, healthier, safer world for all.

IPH is created at the height of the era of sustainable development, i.e. development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs (United Nations, 2015). In this global context, the mission of the IPH is to achieve maximum benefit for both present and future generations through the collective and conscious efforts of society, including health promotion, disease prevention, diagnosis and treatment.

Therefore, the IPH aims to contribute in a concrete, substantial, tangible, and decisive way to promoting progress and the dissemination of knowledge, and its use for the sustainable development of society through the harmonisation of economic growth with social inclusion and environmental protection.

The IPH is based on the following health-related principles and values, which constitute the pillars and premises of the future academic agenda and strategy.

Values and Principles

  • Health is a universal and fundamental right of every human being.
  • Health is a public good, i.e. it is characterised by the absence of rivalry, and not exclusivity, and central to the concept of human capital which is, in turn, the basis of sustainable development.
  • Health is influenced by multiple factors that coexist, interact and influence each other throughout life, from conception. Exposure to many of these factors is positively modifiable both individually and collectively.
  • The World Health Organization's definition of health (WHO, a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not just the absence of disease or infirmity) is understood as a continuum between complete well-being and the most severe forms of disease. This approach integrates and is not opposed to the diagnostic-dicotomic approach (and its clinical-prognostic usefulness) and allows to maximize opportunities to promote and protect health, prevent, diagnose and treat diseases through coherent and organized efforts and informed choices of society and individuals.
  • Mental and somatic health are not distinct, but there are complex and mutual relationships between their causes, their risk and protective factors, and their signs and symptoms. A dualistic view of health is a barrier, and reduces opportunities for promotion, prevention, and treatment.

Competence areas