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EACEA National Policies Platform: Youthwiki


7. Health and Well-Being

7.2 Administration and governance

On this page
  1. Governance
  2. Cross-sectorial cooperation


Main actors

Information on the system of institutionalised health promotion in the Federal Republic of Germany can be found at the website of the Federal Centre for Health Education (Bundeszentrale für gesundheitliche Aufklärung, BzgA).

  • At government level (federal government and state governments):

The Federal Ministry of Health (Bundesministerium für Gesundheit, BMG) is one of the top federal authorities in the Federal Republic of Germany. It is responsible for many areas of policy. It mainly develops draft bills, legislative acts and administrative acts.

The Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (Bundesministerium für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend, BMFSFJ)is responsible for child and youth health issues, specifically prevention, the Early Prevention programme and the development of strategies to promote health.

The Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (Bundesministerium für Ernährung und Landwirtschaft, BMEL) is responsible for nutritional issues. BMEL places equal emphasis on ensuring balanced, healthy diets with safe foods, clear consumer information when shopping, strong and sustainable farming, forestry and fishing industries, opportunities for the many rural areas, animal welfare and safeguarding the world's food supplies.

The Federal Office for Agriculture and Food (Bundesanstalt für Ernährung und Landwirtschaft, BLE)employs around 1,400 staff throughout Germany and at sea. BLE fulfils a wide range of tasks in the areas of agriculture, fisheries and foodstuff. It is a central implementing authority (zentrale Umsetzungsbehörde) within the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (Bundesministerium für Ernährung und Landwirtschaft, BMEL).


Part of the Federal Office for Agriculture and Food is the federal centre for food (Bundeszentrum für Ernährung, BZfE), which provides competent information concerning food and drink to specific target groups in a neutral and scientifically grounded manner that responds to the daily lives of consumers.


The Federal Information Centre for Agriculture (Bundesinformationszentrum Landwirtschaft, BZL) was created through a merger between the former organisation aid Infodienst e.V. with BLE. BZL serves to provide neutral, science-based information so as to create a better understanding of modern agriculture and promomte a wider public debate on farming and its role in society.

The Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community (Bundesministerium des Innern, für Bau und Heimat, BMI) looks after the field of sports, in particular the promotion of elite sport in Germany. See also 7.3 Sport, youth fitness and physical activity.

In the federal states (Bundesländer), the respective state ministries are responsible. The topic of health is addressed in a number of different ways. Promoting physical activity in formal education is the responsibility of the various education authorities.

  •  at the federal state (Länder) level:

State Ministry of Social Affairs and Integration (Ministerium für Soziales und Integration), Baden-Württemberg

Bavarian State Ministry of Health and Care (Bayrisches Staatsministerium für Gesundheit und Pflege) and a separate department for children and adolescentsSenate administration for health, care and equal opportunities Berlin (Senatsverwaltung für Gesundheit, Pflege und Gleichstellung) Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs, Health, Women and Family Affairs, Brandenburg (Ministerium für Arbeit, Soziales, Gesundheit, Frauen und Familie) Senator for science, health and consumer protection, Bremen (Senatorin für Wissenschaft, Gesundheit und Verbraucherschutz) Ministry of Health and Consumer Protection, Hamburg (Behörde für Gesundheit und Verbraucherschutz) Ministry of Social Affairs and Integration, Hessen (Hessisches Ministerium für Soziales und Integration) and a separate department for children and adolescents in Hessen

Ministry of Social Affairs, Labor, Health and Demography, Rhineland-Palatinate (Ministerium für Soziales, Arbeit, Gesundheit und Demografie)

Ministry for Economic Affairs, Labour and Health, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania (Ministerium für Wirtschaft, Arbeit und Gesundheit) Lower Saxon Ministry for Social Affairs, Health and Equal Opportunities (Niedersächsisches Ministerium für Soziales, Gesundheit und Gleichstellung) Ministry of Labor, Health and Social Affairs, North Rhine-Westphalia (Ministerium für Arbeit, Gesundheit und Soziales) and a separate department for child health in North Rhine-WestphaliaMinistry of Health, Social Affairs, Women and the Family, Saarland (Ministerium für Soziales, Gesundheit, Frauen und Familie) Saxon State Ministry of Social Affairs and Consumer Protection (Sächsisches Staatsministerium für Soziales und Verbraucherschutz) and separate health portalsMinistry of Labour and Social Affairs and Integration, Saxony-Anhalt (Ministerium für Arbeit, Soziales und Integration) Ministry of Social Affairs, Health, Youth, Family and Senior Citizens, Schleswig-Holstein (Ministerium für Soziales, Gesundheit, Jugend, Familie und Senioren) State Ministry of Social Affairs, Family and Health, Thuringia (Ministerium für Arbeit, Soziales, Gesundheit, Frauen und Familie)

  • Public-sector institutions:

The Federal Centre for Health Education (Bundeszentrale für gesundheitliche Aufklärung, BzgA) provides health education services at a federal (national) level as the specialist authority in the portfolio of the Federal Ministry of Health (Bundesministerium für Gesundheit, BMG). The Decree of 20 July 1967 assigns specific tasks to BZgA, in particular:

  • Elaboration of principles and guidelines relating to the content and methods of practical health education
  • Vocational training and continuing education of persons working in the field of health education
  • Coordination and intensification of health education in Germany
  • International collaboration

The Robert Koch Institute (Robert-Koch-Institut, RKI) resulted from the former Federal Health Office (Bundesgesundheitsamt), which was dissolved in 1994. It is the federal government's central body for identifying, protecting against and combating diseases. Based in Berlin, the institute researches public health issues and advises the federal government. RKI regularly carries out the German Health Interview and Examination Survey for Children and Adolescents (KiGGS Studie) in Germany.

The Equity in Health Cooperation Network (Kooperationsverbund Gesundheitliche Chancengleichheit) was initiated by Federal Centre for Health Education (Bundeszentrale für gesundheitliche Aufklärung, BzgA). It now has 66 partners in Germany. Its key objectives are to improve equity in health in Germany and promote good health among the socially disadvantaged.

The National Quality Centre for Nutrition in Child Day Care and Schools (Nationales Qualitätszentrum für Ernährung in Kita und Schule) coordinates existing programmes and initiatives for good nutrition in schools and child day care, develops quality standards and concepts for catering quality controls, and raises awareness of the importance of good quality food and nutrition education among the relevant target groups. The aim is to improve the quality of meals provided in child day care and schools.

The National Centre on Early Prevention in Childhood (Nationales Zentrum Frühe Hilfen, NZFH) was created in 2007 by the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (Bundesministerium für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend, BMFSFJ). Its main goal is to protect children against dangers better and earlier by efficiently networking public health care support services and child and youth services (Kinder- und Jugendhilfe). To meet this goal, access to risk groups in particular must be improved. NZFH is supported by the Federal Centre for Health Education (Bundeszentrale für gesundheitliche Aufklärung, BZgA), in cooperation with the German Youth Institute (Deutsches Jugendinstitut e.V.).

  • Non-governmental institutions:

The German Society of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Kinder- und Jugendmedizin e.V., DGKJ) is a scientific association for all paediatric and adolescent medicine in Germany. It

  • has over 15,500 members working in clinics, medical practices, scientific institutions, research institutes and public health care
  • brings together 39 companies specialising in paediatric medicine, from diabetology and sports medicine to tropical paediatrics.

The German Academy of Paediatrics and Adolescent Medicine (Deutsche Akademie für Kinder- und Jugendmedizin e.V., DAKJ) is the umbrella association for companies and professional bodies in the field of paediatrics and adolescent medicine, which:

  • coordinates the joint non-profit goals and tasks of its members for the well-being of children and young people
  • represents these goals to the public and policymakers
  • is committed to the best possible health care for children and young people
  • is committed to children's rights as contained in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The German Association of Social Pediatrics and Youth Medicine (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Sozialpädiatrie und Jugendmedizin e.V., DGSPJ) is a scientific association with about 2000 members, mainly paediatricians and doctors of adolescent medicine, but also paediatric nurses and carers, medical doctors with other specialisations, psychologists, therapists, educators and legal entities. The Association's goals are to:

  • Promote research, teaching, training and further training in the field of social paediatrics and adolescent medicine
  • Initiate and promote health-based prevention programmes for families, children and young people
  • Establish initiatives to improve interdisciplinary networking in health care and health sciences and contact with relevant national and international institutions and associations
  • Serve socially disadvantaged, chronically ill and disabled children and young people by offering prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and integration
  • Advocate for the rights of children in line with the UN Convention

The Research Centre for School Sport and the Physical Education of Children and Young Adults (Forschungszentrum für den Schulsport und den Sport von Kindern und Jugendlichen, FoSS) carries out practical research into exercise, play and physical activity among children and young people to develop tried-and-tested, forward-looking exercise and teaching programmes.

The Federal Association for Health Promotion and Prevention (Bundesvereinigung Prävention und Gesundheitsförderung e.V., BVPG) is a non-profit, politically independent, non-denominational association. Its members include federal health care associations (such as the German Medical Association [Bundesärztekammer], the umbrella associations of the health insurance providers, associations of healing professionals and ancillary medical staff, and educational institutions and academies) that work in prevention and health promotion. One focus of its activities is on children and young people. BVPG receives institutional funding from the Federal Ministry of Health (Bundesministerium für Gesundheit) for the objectives and tasks set out in its articles of association and on the basis of the latest annual work programme. Irrespective of this, projects are financed from public funds and sponsorship money.

Citizens advice bureaux (Verbraucherzentralen)are found in all federal states (Bundesländer) with a wide range of services available from about 200 bureaux. Consumers can use the bureaux to access up-to-date, reliable information and independent advice on topics such as health and nutrition, including specifically for children and young people.

The German Nutrition Society (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Ernährung e.V.) was established in 1953. It deals with all issues relating to nutrition and identifies areas where research is needed. Its publications include a nutrition report every four years.

Germany's leading provider of information about agriculture, food and nutrition are the Federal Office for Agriculture and Food (Bundesinformationszentrum Landwirtschaft) and the Federal Centre for nutrition (Bundeszentrum für Ernährung).

The German Centre for Addiction Issues (Deutsche Hauptstelle für Suchtfragen, DHS) was created in 1947 as a platform for all associations and charitable organisations active in the field of addiction intervention in Germany. With a handful of exceptions, all institutions providing outpatient counselling and treatment, inpatient treatment and self-help are represented at DHS.

The centres for addiction issues in the federal states (Landesstellen für Suchtfragen) are the points of contact and umbrella organisations for associations and institutions active in addition treatment and prevention in the federal states (except Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania).

The federal working committee for more child safety (Bundesarbeitsgemeinschaft Mehr Sicherheit für Kinder e.V.) develops programmes to prevent childhood accidents and performs a networking role.

The Child Health Foundation (Stiftung Kindergesundheit) actively promotes the healthy upbringing of children and adolescents. It provides the public with information on major health issues and works with partners and recognised specialists to develop prevention measures for, e.g., daycare centres, kindergartens and schools. It facilitates a professional dialogue among doctors and researchers and provides expert input in the field of paediatric prevention.

German Sports Youth (Deutsche Sportjugend, dsj) represents the interests of:

  • about 10 million children, adolescents and young people aged up to 26 years old
  • who are organised in 90,000 sports clubs in 16 state youth sports organisations (Landessportjugend), 53 youth organisations of the sports associations
  • and 10 youth organisations of the associations with special tasks (Jugendorganisationen der Sportverbände mit besonderen Aufgaben).

The federal government, in this case the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (Bundesministerium für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend, BMFSFJ), funds dsj as a youth organisation from the budget for the Child and Youth Plan of the federation (Kinder- und Jugendplan des Bundes), the central funding instrument for child and youth services at a federal (national) level. German Sports Youth (Deutsche Sportjugend), its member organisations and their subdivisions provide sports programmes across Germany to help young people with their personal development. Its motto for activities for children up to about 12 years of age is 'Physical activity for children' (Kinderwelt ist Bewegungswelt). From an educational perspective, the action areas focus on non-formal learning for children of nursery and primary school age.

General distribution of responsibilities

The Federal Ministry of Health (Bundesministerium für Gesundheit, BMG), has a key role in drafting and creating proposed legislation on a federal (national) level. BMG develops government health policy and transposes this into legislation.

With the Advisory Council for the Assessment of Developments in the Health Care System (Sachverständigenrat zur Begutachtung der Entwicklung im Gesundheitswesen), the federal government or, more specifically, BMG has a panel of advisors whose expert opinions have a strong influence on health policy discussions.

The responsible ministries in the federal states (Bundesländer) play a central role in two main areas of German health care: inpatient care and the public health service. An important focus of activities in the federal states is on prevention, i.e. programmes and initiatives to maintain and promote public health and the health of specific target groups such as children and young people.

Traditionally, the public health service has been responsible for health care and prevention (such as check-ups when starting school, counselling for mothers and pregnant women), psychiatric and socio-psychiatric community care, monitoring and counselling services relating to hygiene, infectious diseases, the movement of pharmaceuticals and environmental medicine. These tasks are usually carried out by the local health authorities (Gesundheitsämter) in the districts and towns/cities or by specialist facilities at county or federal state level.

A task that has been expanded a great deal in recent years is health reporting at state and, in some cases, local community level. The health reports provide facts and figures on the health of the general population and on health care structures and services. The Robert Koch Institute (Robert-Koch-Institut) reports on health at a federal (national) level.

The federal states (Bundesländer) control the structure and responsibilities of their public health services in state laws.

A particular characteristic of the German health system is the important role given to the associations and bodies linked to statutory health insurance (Gesetzliche Krankenversicherung, GKV) and/or health care services funded by statutory health insurance. The state has delegated responsibility for direct organisation and administrative control to self-governed bodies and their associations. They also take on a key function in prevention and counselling work for children and young people.

Cross-sectoral cooperation

As a rule, the federal ministries are required to work together in matters that relate to two or more federal ministries. Cross-sectorial cooperation as well as cooperation with other departments in another federal ministry and with the Federal Chancellery (Bundeskanzleramt), the lower (Bundestag) and upper house (Bundesrat) of parliament, the Mediation Committee (Vermittlungsausschuss), and the supreme state authorities of the federal states is governed by the Joint Rules of Procedure of the Federal Ministries (Gemeinsame Geschäftsordnung der Bundesministerien, GGO). Depending on the subject or issue at hand, the relevant ministry takes the lead, e.g. in the case of health, the Federal Ministry of Health (Bundesministerium für Gesundheit, BMG).

Health conferences

Health conferences are an important tool for managing health policy. In Germany, the establishment of health conferences can mainly be traced back to funding initiatives in individual federal states (Bundesländer) or local communities that have existed to varying degrees and with different emphases since the 1990s. Implementation strategies in the federal states range from local one-off initiatives through to nationwide roll-outs in all areas.

Community health conferences are steering committees that advise on needs-based, community analyses and action recommendations on health and make decisions on implementation. The community health conferences and the associated working groups take joint action on community strengths and weaknesses, identify demand and look for the right solutions. Children and young people also play a role in this regard.

Conference of health ministers (Gesundheitsministerkonferenz)

The federal structure of Germany means that the federal states (Bundesländer) are responsible for public health services. The Working Group of the Supreme Federal States' Public Health Offices (Arbeitsgemeinschaft der Obersten Landesgesundheitsbehörden) was set up as part of the conference of health ministers (Gesundheitsministerkonferenz) to ensure uniform administration across all federal states. Chairmanship 2020: Berlin. This working group consists of 11 task forces:

  1. Emergency services,
  2. Addiction,
  3. Environment-related health protection,
  4. Health reporting, prevention, rehabilitation and social medicine,
  5. Pharmaceuticals, pharmacies, transfusions and narcotic drugs,
  6. Health care professions,
  7. Psychiatry,
  8. Anti-infection,
  9. Medical devices,
  10. Hospitals (including nursing fee issues),
  11. European Union.

There is no separate task force for children and young people. However, they are very likely to be covered by at least one of the task forces as a specific target group.

Conference of sports ministers (Sportministerkonferenz)

The conference of sports ministers (Sportministerkonferenz) represents the sporting interests of the federal states (Bundesländer). It coordinates the interests of the federal states in developing sports with the tasks of the European Union, the federal government, the local communities and non-profit sports. Chair in 2017: Federal State of Saarland.

Cooperation and partnerships

The responsibilities of the federal government and the federal states (Bundesländer) under Germany's federal structure place tight constraints on the direct funding of cooperation and partnerships at a federal (national) level. Agreements exist between state ministries and the state sports federations on school and sport partnerships.

At the federal (national) level, the German Olympic Sports Confederation (Deutscher Olympischer Sportbund, DOSB) and the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs (Kultusministerkonferenz, KMK) adopted joint recommendations for further developing physical education and school sports fo 2017-2022 (Gemeinsame Handlungsempfehlungen der Kultusministerkonferenz und des Deutschen Olympischen Sportbundes zur Weiterentwicklung des Schulsports 2017-2022) containing recommendations and suggestions on cooperation between schools and clubs.

A number of agreements exist between sports organisations and, for example, health insurance providers as to who covers course fees for health-related sports programmes.

Several federal ministries [Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (Umwelt, Naturschutz, Bau und Reaktorsicherheit); Health; Food and Agriculture and top-level federal agencies [Federal Office for Radiation Protection (Bundesamt für Strahlenschutz); Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (Bundesinstitut für Risikobewertung); Robert Koch Institute; German Environment Agency (Umweltbundesamt)] cooperate as part of the Action Programme on Environment and Health (Aktionsprogramm Umwelt und Gesundheit, APUG) to support healthy living environments. The programme funds research projects and information campaigns relating to environmental, health and consumer protection. Children and young people are its key target group.