Group | Household Health Systems

The Household Health Systems research group focuses on in environmental health and health systems research. We consider the perspective of the household at the interface to the health and social system in socio-ecological environments in the global South and North. The intention is to discover how household health practices and behaviours can be better integrated with formal public services and become integral and supported parts of the health system and programme.    

Research in the South

In the context of the South, the purpose of our research in two South American and five African countries is to link marginalised and rural (high altitude) communities with an effective higher-level health system by improved engagement of householders and community level health workers. The intention is to discover how household health practices and behaviours but also environmental and health intervention can be better integrated with formal public services and become integral and supported parts of the health system and programmes.

Research in Switzerland

In the Swiss context, we investigate processes that link human behaviour, illness experience, and health seeking on the one hand and the physicians’ behaviour, case management, and diagnostic and treatment strategies as well as the diagnostic practices of laboratories on the other hand; all those factors are influencing disease reporting and shape the so-called “burden of illness pyramid”. Our research on food- and waterborne disease epidemiology and control including on acute gastroenteritis, campylobacteriosis and Legionnaires’ disease fosters the understanding of the aforementioned processes.

Patient Pyramid

We apply this model to depict our multiple research projects in the field health systems research on infectious diseases in Switzerland. 

WHO and 14 collaborating research institutions have estimated that 842,000 diarrhoea deaths in low- and middle- income countries can be attributed to poor water, sanitation and hygiene. This amounts to 1.5% of the total disease burden and 58% of diarrhoeal diseases.

The Household Health Systems group has contributed substantially to this series.

For more information: WHO Programme "Water Sanitation Health"

Early child development intervention at household level
Improved kitchen environment with running water, sink and improved cookstove.

Bless P.J, Schmutz C, Mäusezahl D. The recurrent campylobacteriosis epidemic over Christmas and New Year in European countries, 2006-2014. BMC Res Notes. 2017;10:266. DOI: 10.1186/s13104-017-2587-8

Bless P.J, Schmutz C, Sartori K, Mäusezahl D. Time trends of positivity rates from foodborne pathogen testing in Switzerland, 2003 to 2012. Swiss Med Wkly. 2017;147:w14569. DOI: 10.4414/smw.2017.14569

Hartinger S.M et al. Impact of a child stimulation intervention on early child development in rural Peru: a cluster randomised trial using a reciprocal control design. J Epidemiol Community Health. 2017;71(3):217-224. DOI: 10.1136/jech-2015-206536

Schmutz C, Bless P.J, Mäusezahl D, Jost M, Mäusezahl-Feuz M, Swiss Sentinel Surveillance Network. Acute gastroenteritis in primary care: a longitudinal study in the Swiss Sentinel Surveillance Network, Sentinella. Infection. 2017;45(6):811-824. DOI: 10.1007/s15010-017-1049-5

Schmutz C, Mäusezahl D, Bless P.J, Hatz C, Schwenkglenks M, Urbinello D. Estimating healthcare costs of acute gastroenteritis and human campylobacteriosis in Switzerland. Epidemiol Infect. 2017;145(4):627-641. DOI: 10.1017/S0950268816001618