Skip to main content

YouthWiki

EACEA National Policies Platform: Youthwiki
Slovakia

Slovakia

7. Health and Well-Being

7.4 Healthy lifestyles and healthy nutrition

On this page
  1. National strategy(ies)
  2. Encouraging healthy lifestyles and healthy nutrition for young people
  3. Health education and healthy lifestyles education in schools
  4. Peer-to-peer education approaches
  5. Collaboration and partnerships
  6. Raising awareness on healthy lifestyles and on factors affecting the health and well-being of young people

National strategy(ies)

A single conceptual document focusing exclusively on healthy lifestyle, diet and nutrition, sexual health and the fight against risky behaviour of youth does not exist in Slovakia yet.

These themes are parts of various legislative documents - acts, strategies and/or action plans.

National Action Plan forChildren for 2013 - 2017 (closed in June 2019)

  • a joint document of key parties involved describing agreed measures focusing on implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in Slovakia, including health and health care.
  • the measures enlisted in the document are often part of other strategic documents and are included in the agenda of various institutions.

Some of the selected objectives of basic health care, disability and social services are:

a) Improving children's and young people's awareness of health and promoting health lifestyles

b) Support for the prevention of congenital disabilities in children

Goals and aims of National Action plan for Children were transffered to strategical document on development of Slovakia up to 2030 (Vízia a stratégia rozvoja Slovenska do roku 2030) .

There are some strategic documents including the theme of healthy lifestyle and healthy nutrition (targeting children and youth among various other groups):

#Strategic Framework for Health for period 2014 -2030

  • defines the strategy of the Slovak health policy,
  • approved by the Government of the Slovak Republic in 2013;
  • its implementation is the responsibility of the Ministry of Health of the Slovak Republic,
  • some measures are also addressed to other partners,
  • The Monitoring Committee submits reports on implementation (various actors) once a year
  • The Steering Committee meets once in 6 months (representatives of the Ministry of Health of the Slovak Republic).

The Strategic Framework focuses on health care services, it does not mention specific target groups.

The document focuses on:

  • performance analysis of the Slovak health care system,
  • demographic development,
  • strategic goals (integrated outpatient health care, inpatient health care, public health)
  • key health sector areas of concern and tools for transformation,
  • monitoring system
  • source of finance and others

The objectives and measures were further elaborated into separate strategies, projects and programmes as for example Implementation strategy - Integrated health care system.

#National Health Promotion Programme in the Slovak Republic

  • prepared by the Ministry of Health of the Slovak Republic and the Public Health Authority of the Slovak Republic.
  • approved by the Government of the Slovak Republic
  • it has been regularly updated since 1991
  • the monitoring is set for a 5-year interval and is evaluated by the expert commission
  • the programme focuses on selected health determinants.

Updated National Health Promotion Programme(2014) 

The document focuses on:

A. Prevention and reduction of the incidence of infectious diseases.

I. Increase in the level of public awareness of selected health determinants:

  1. Nutrition and Dietary habits
  2. Physical activity
  3. Tobacco, alcohol and drug addiction
  4. Healthy work and lifestyle determinants:

                a) working environment,

                b) living environment.

II. Specific measures in relation to the most prevalent chronic non-infectious conditions:

  1. Cardiovascular diseases
  2. Diabetes mellitus 
  3. Selected cancerous diseases

B. Prevention and reduction of the incidence of non-infectious diseases

The objectives and activities outlined in the document are aimed at all age categories of the population; the youth is explicitly listed in the section Alcohol, drugs and tobacco products and in the part of Cardiovascular diseases (Healthy lifestyle promotion).

National Obesity Prevention Programmefor period 2015-2025,

  • the document was prepared by Ministry of Health of the Slovak Republic
  • it was adopted by the Government of the Slovak Republic in 2014

The document focuses on:

  • Promotion of healthy start in life
  • Promotion of healthier environment at schools
  • Healthier decision-making process
  • Marketing and commercial advertisements’ reduction for the children and youth
  • Informed families
  • Promotion of physical activities

Monitoring and evaluation is planned for two periods in 2020 and 2025 via reports from individual ministries on the assigned tasks and measures.

#National Anti-Drug Strategy of the Slovak Republic for 2013-2020

  • coordinating body is the Government Council for Anti-drug Policy
  • document was adopted by the Government of the Slovak Republic in 2013

The main strategic objectives are:

  • contribution to measurable decrease in drug demand and drug addiction
  • contribution to the suppression of drug crime rate, the reduction of the availability of illicit drugs and new psychoactive substances,

Three cross-section themes:

  • coordination,
  • international cooperation,
  • research, information, monitoring and evaluation

Action plans result from the National Strategy containing specific measures (2013, 2017)

The strategy is monitored by the Department of Drug Strategy Coordination and Monitoring of Drugs, which is part of the Ministry of Health of the Slovak Republic (Odbor koordinácie protidrogovoej stratégie a monitorovania drog).

National Action Plan on the problems with alcohol use for 2013 – 2020

  • prepared by the Public Health Authority of the Slovak Republic and the Ministry of Health of the Slovak Republic
  • adopted by the Slovak Government in 2013.

It consists of three basic parts:

  1. Alcohol consumption in the Slovak Republic and its harmful effects on health;
  2. Alcohol Control in the Slovak Republic;
  3. Tasks of the National Action Plan on the problems with alcohol use for 2013-2020 by sectors.

The document contains specific tasks (including the timeframe) for 9 ministries, most of them are assigned to the Ministry of Health of the Slovak Republic.

Selection of tasks and objectives targeted at youth:

  • Development of a cross-sectional study on the impact of health education in the prevention of alcohol addiction among young people aged 15-29.
  • Improvement of school measurements, for example school equipment to prevent problems with early or excessive alcohol use and tools to promote a healthy lifestyle for pupils.
  • Expert advice aimed specifically at the prevention of harmful alcohol use. Providing of individual or group professional care to young people at risk of alcohol dependence.
  • Increase the effectiveness of prevention among young people in school education.

Encouraging healthy lifestyles and healthy nutrition for young people

Activities and projects at national level are based on the National Health Promotion Programme of the Slovak Republic (2014). It includes mainly measures focused on education and active promotion of healthy lifestyle.

Apart from the Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Sport of the Slovak Republic, the Public Health Authority of the Slovak Republic and its 36 Regional Public Health Autorities Offices are the main promotion bodies.

Regional Public Health Authorities cooperate with schools, Association of municipalities and cities and other partners through specific projects and programs (e.g. projects of Regional Public Health Office in Banská Bystrica).

International projects and initiatives with the participation of Slovakia

Healthy School 

  • the programme for primary and secondary schools,
  • the objective: prevention and disease control based on health protection strategies, health promotion and health enhancement,
  • over 10 years of existence,
  • various activities in schools: discussions, all-day thematic activities, pupils' exhibitions, counselling, club activities, etc.
  • Themes of activities: obesity prevention, mental health, dental prevention, education for marriage and parenthood (sexual education) and environmental education,
  • financing of basic activities - each schools’ own resources.

Calls from the Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Sport of the Slovak Republic for financing of development projects focused on health and safety in schools since 2015. 

2017 objectives and priorities of the Call:

  • forming the pupils’ relationship to a healthy lifestyle,
  • protecting the physical and mental health of pupils,
  • improving the psychosocial environment in schools,
  • prevention of risk behaviours: violence, bullying, truancy, aggression, manifests of extremism and radicalization of pupils, delinquency, drug addictions, abuses, HIV/AIDS, human trafficking).

CINDI Slovakia:

  • international programme  - WHO Countrywide Integrated Non-communicable Disease Intervention Programme, 
  • implemented by Public Health Authority of Slovak Republic for the whole Slovakia and in regions by Regional Public Health Authorities via their Health Promotion and Education Counselling Centres
  • objective: reduction of total mortality of the population to cardiovascular and tumour diseases. 

School Fruit and Vegetables programme (Školské ovocie) 

School Milk programme

  • implementation in Slovakia since 2004 (the accession to European Union),
  • objective: to contribute to the healthy nutrition and to create healthy eating habits of children and youth by increasing consumption of milk and dairy products,
  • milk machines and dairy products (cheese, yoghurts...) are delivered to schools and children and young people are provided with dairy products with discount,
  • financing: Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of the Slovak Republic and the European Union funds,
  • monitoring and evaluation within the Agricultural Paying Agency of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of the Slovak Republic (Annual Reports/Výročné správy).
  • in school year 2015/2016 - 7 suppliers, 2 303 schools, almost 300 000 children and young people participated,
  • vendors provide the programme promotion through their own sites, e.g. TAMI, RAJO etc. 

In 2017, the School Milk and the School Fruit and Vegetables programmes are funded under one financial scheme (Nariadenie Vlády SR č. 189/2017). 

The Joint Action on Nutrition and Physical Activity) ‐ JANPA - European joint action to stop overweight and obesity in children and adolescents by 2020. The project involves 26 countries (25 EU Member States and Norway) which will allow:

  • estimate and predict the economic costs of overweight and obesity
  • improve the implementation of integrated interventions to promote healthy nutrition and physical activityactivities for pregnant women and families with small children
  • Contribute to healthier environments in kindergartens and schools
  • improve the use of food nutrition information by public health authorities, stakeholders and families.

Other selected projects and programmes implemented in Slovakia

New recipes for school canteens

  • Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Sport of the Slovak Republic publishes updated recipes for school meals,
  • objective: to make school meals more attractive, trendy and still based on the principles of healthy nutrition.

#Week LET’S TALK ABOUT FOOD (Týždeň: HOVORME O JEDLE) 

  • organized by the Centrum rozvoja znalostí o potravinách n.o. (Centre for Food Knowledge Development – non profit),
  • nation-wide activities, competitions, artwork, literary contests,
  • the aim: to increase the level awareness about food and good eating habits as part of a healthy lifestyle,
  • with the support of the Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Sport of the Slovak Republic and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of the Slovak Republic.

Health on the Table 2019

  • call for proposals of the Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Sport of the Slovak Republic 
  • support for 28 projects aimed at obesity prevention in order to motivate children and young people to change dietary habits.

Health education and healthy lifestyles education in schools

  • Health education is included in the curriculum for ISCED 1, 2 and 3 in the theme "Health and Movement".
  • Objective is to recognize the need for lifelong health care that includes movement.
  • Focus is on basic information on healthy lifestyle.

The theme "Health and Movement" reflects in particular the topic of physical and sports education but health and healthy lifestyle topics are also found in other school subjects at all three levels of education.

In cross-disciplinary themes (not having specific school subject but being incorporated into other individual subjects) at all three levels (ISCED 1, 2, 3) there is the Environmental Education - oriented on life-threatening situations (for example in nature).

In the first stage of primary education (ISCED 1), health education is incorporated:

  1. in the school subject Natural Sciences in topics:

  • obesity,
  • vitamins,
  • good nutrition,
  • drugs.
  1. In the mandatory school subject Ethics in topic health care.

In the lower secondary education (ISCED 2), health education is incorporated in the mandatory subject Biology in topics:

  • man and his body (body care),
  • human health and life (health and illness, external health effects, internal health effects, addictive substances and their impact on health, lifestyle, healthy lifestyle).

At the third level of secondary education (ISCED 3), health education is included in a compulsory subject Biology in topics:

  • basic prerequisites for health,
  • reproductive health,
  • civilization diseases,
  • social pathologies,
  • first aid basics.

The most common methods and learning resources used in health education are:

  • methods: explanation, observation, projects, instructions, manipulation of subjects.
  • resources: methodological materials, textbooks, didactic equipment, professional magazines, websites, videos.

Methodological materials on these topics are created by the Institutions for Teachers´ Education and Training (organization of the MESRS), non-governmental organizations or various project initiatives.

Counselling and implementation of educational activities in schools in the field of prevention against social pathology (for example drug addiction) are also carried out by the 71 state Centres of Pedagogic and Psychological Counselling and Prevention (institutions of the MESRS) in each of the Slovak regions. Centres are founded by the “School Act” as the part of the counselling and prevention system in formal education. Centres employ psychologists, social and special pedagogues as well as social workers (List of Centres/Adresár CPPPaP).

Sex Education and Personal Relationship Education

Sex education is included in the curriculum for ISCED 1,2 and3 in the theme Education for Marriage and Parenthood

This topic is based on the curriculum approved by the MESRS. 

The curriculum is conceived as horizontal and interdisciplinary to be incorporated into several subjects curriculum - ethics, biology, religious education and others.

The curriculum recommends schools to create the position of a coordinator for education for marriage and parenthood, who elaborates annual plan.

For ISCED 1, the areas of education are as follows:

  1. Family education
  2. The principles of healthy life
  3. Negative consequences of smoking and other drugs on human health and behaviour
  4. Gender Equality
  5. The origin and development of a human individual
  6. Changes in the body of a child during puberty

For ISCED 2, the areas of education are as follows:

  1. Friendship
  2. Cultivated adolescence and developmental roles of this period, 
  3. Anatomy and physiology of reproductive organs
  4. Responsible approach to sexuality, self-esteem and respect for others
  5. Negative influence of alcohol, drugs and relationship dependency on sexual and reproductive health of a man
  6. Safe behaviour principles

For ISCED 3, the areas of education are as follows:

  1. Marriage and family
  2. Parenthood
  3. Intimate relationships (sexual education)

Methods of sexual education

  • age-appropriate: interpretation, interview, discussion, dramatization, problem method, brainstorming, teaching equipment, discussions with doctors, fairy tales, role plays, conceptual maps creation, didactic methods (for example Sunflower, Tree of Knowledge and others).

  • in the area of sexual education, schools cooperate with Centres of Pedagogic and Psychological Counselling and Prevention (institutions of MESRS) established in each of the Slovak regions.

Peer-to-peer education approaches

In Slovakia peer-to-peer activities are used primarily as a prevention of drug addiction.

They are mainly organized by non-governmental organizations or by the Centres of Pedagogic and Psychological Counselling and Prevention (institutions of MESRS).

Slovakia without Drugs, NGO (Slovensko bez drog) gives lectures at primary and secondary schools where  discuss about drugs, their use and the dilemmas that young people might have such as smoking and consumption of alcohol with their parents etc. The lectures have been held since 2010 with the participation of 207,305 pupils. Pupils can opt to take on themselves the anti-drugs sheriff's oath (Sľub protidrogového šerifa). They are committed not to take drugs, talk about the danger of drug addiction, help others to make such decision etc.

Collaboration and partnerships

The legal framework for cooperation in the field of health policy is established in each strategic document (see 7.2). Specific policy initiatives and, in particular, stable financial support for cooperation and partnership building are absent.

Cooperation with schools is the precondition of several activities of the Public Health Authority of the Slovak Republic.

Current example of building the cooperation between pediatricians, schools and families, especially from marginalized Roma communities with help of Health Assistants is supported by the “Healthy Regions” national project and initiative (Operational Programme Human Resources).

Raising awareness on healthy lifestyles and on factors affecting the health and well-being of young people

The prevention through counselling and information campaigns is part of most of the national strategy documents. Some of the specific measures are also targeted at children and youth. There are initiatives covering all age groups - including youth.

In the health-care sector, the dissemination of information, education and healthy lifestyle promotion is handled especially by the Public Health Authority of the Slovak Republic.

The Public Health Authority of the Slovak Republic implements its activities aimed at children and youth through the Department of Children and Youth Hygiene.

However, there is no dedicated to youth-only contact point.

The Health Counselling Officesare operated by The Public Health Authority of the Slovak Republic.

  • being established from 1993 in 36 districts of Slovakia at the Regional Public Health Authorities within the Countrywide Integrated Non-communicable Disease Intervention Programme (CINDI) project.
  • the objective is prevention and reduction of lifestyle risk factors
  • clients are mostly younger and middle-aged people.
  • counselling is based on examination of the main risk factors (body height and weight, waistline and hipline, biochemical blood tests and others).

Further specialised counselling centre can be also a part of Health Counselling Offices (e.g. counselling on healthy nutrition, optimization of physical activity, support of mental health and others).

Some of the Regional Public Health Authorities establish and run Counselling Centres for Children and Youth

Their focus is on children and adolescents whose blood cholesterol levels were detected high during preventive medical examinations. These counselling centres provide advice on dietary and lifestyle habits. Medical examination results and analysis are later the basis for professional counselling focused on a specific problem area of the family.

In the area of healthy nutrition, obesity prevention and treatment, there also exist specialized Dietary Counselling Centres (operating under the health-care sector) that employ mainly doctors.

Nutrition Counselling Centres

Nutrition Counselling Centres may be a part of the health-care services provided within health insurance package or by a private health-care provider. Dietary counselling centres and nutrition centres are also available online, mostly as individial private initiatives or via media initiatives that cooperate with experts.

Paediatricians and general practitioners are also advising their patients on healthy lifestyle.

Information campaigns include several projects as “To school on a bike” (see 7.3), “Healthy cities”, “Healthy Schools” others.

The campaign aimed on healthy nutrition is for example “Let’s talk about food.