Parent strategies exist at international, national and regional levels and appear as policies, framework policies, programmes or networks. Such strategies aim to define a common framework for action for a clearly defined issue or theme. Vision, goals and recommendations for action provide transparent and goal-oriented guidance for all involved.
At the international level, the framework formulated by the WHO "Health for All in the 21st Century" is one of the best known strategies. This sets out the priority themes and 21 objectives formulated as recommendations for national health policies.
At the national level the overall strategy with priorities, objectives and measures is usually determined for a certain time frame as part of a national health policy. In Switzerland where a national health policy is lacking, a national law for prevention is currently being prepared. This should then provide a basis for common national goals and optimum coordination.
At the national level, programmes are based on specific themes. In Switzerland, for example:
Another form of overarching strategies are networks. They are based on a common understanding of professional standards, pursue the same objectives, ensure exchange of professional expertise and experience and promote the further development of the theme in question. At the European level, these are for example the "European Network of Health Promoting schools" and the "European Network Workplace Health Promotion".
Experience shows that projects that are imbedded in a parent programme with comprehensive long-term goals have a greater chance of making an impact. Projects have a defined time span and limited effects. A coordinated implementation of projects and measures in the context of a common goal, therefore, suggests itself. What is more, a larger programme usually also has a broader theoretical base and is subject to monitoring and evaluation. Programmes and networks contain important knowledge and function as exchange forums. Experiences are easily shared and synergies exploited, therefore improving effectiveness and sustainability of all the projects.
Projects that run outside federal and cantonal programmes or networks risk losing their effects sometime after they have ended.