Many scientific studies have shown the importance of prevention and health promotion to reduce the incidence of diseases and mortality and consequently the costs to the National Health Service (NHS) and society and to promote the maintenance of well-being and quality of life.
Diseases such as type 2 diabetes, certain types of cancer and dementia can be partially prevented. Nearly 80% of heart disease and strokes can be avoidable if people are willing to change their lifestyle. In a modern concept of health, its promotion and prevention must focus on joint actions in different sectors of society, mainly on modifiable behavioural risk factors and social, economic and environmental health determinants, to mention the importance of early diagnosis, the crucial role of vaccinations and the fight against inequalities.
In this area, in accordance with the policies promoted by international agencies such as the World Health Organization (WHO), adopted by national regulations, the strategic activities of the Istituto Superiore di Sanità (ISS, the National Institute of Health in Italy) are inspired by the fundamental principles of capacity building of strengthening people's skills to make responsible choices for their own well-being. In this vision, prevention and health promotion encompass all stages of life and consider health no longer the responsibility of NHS alone.
To this end, the ISS collects data and carries out research on lifestyles and behaviours with potential effects on health, it studies and promotes models of intervention, supports Ministries and Regions in disease prevention and health promotion activities, and collaborates with other national and international institutions.