Communicable Diseases Legislation – Epidemics Act, (EpidA)

The Federal Act of 3.12.2010 on the control of communicable human diseases (Epidemics Act; EpidA) has been in force since 1.1.2016, and enables a timely detection, monitoring, prevention and control.

Simpler structure, better understanding

The previous legislation has been simplified. Its new structure groups together the provisions in a few decrees, thereby facilitating the understanding.

New applicable law (since 2016)
New applicable law (since 2016)

New applicable law (since 2016)
Previous applicable legislation (1970 – 2015)

The most important aspects of the legislation

The following central points are highlighted in the Epidemics Act:

  • The work-sharing between the Confederation and the cantons in crisis situations is clarified by introducing a three-part model applicable to normal, particular and extraordinary situations respectively.
  • In regard to preparations for crises and their management explicit provisions have been set out to confront new menaces and to manage health emergencies. Moreover, the coordination of measures has been defined at the national and international levels. In the case of crises the management of events requires a high degree of coordination and organisation at the levels of the Confederation and cantons.
  • In regard to combating communicable diseases the Confederation defines the national objectives and strategies, thereby strengthening its leadership role. The formulation and implementation of national programmes in collaboration with the cantons ensure that pertinent topics in regard to confronting communicable diseases can be addressed in a coherent and coordinated manner. Such topics particularly include vaccinations, healthcare-associated infections, resistance to pathogens as well as HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.
  • A coordination body will facilitate cooperation between the Confederation and cantons in the field of communicable diseases. The objective of a uniform implementation is ensured by a technical interchange of information between the Confederation and cantons and by coordinating the identified measures. In addition, the Federal Council has access to an operational body that can provide assistance and advice for the management of particular or extraordinary situations.
  • Measures in regard to individuals or to the population and to the international transport of goods and people are defined and extended when needed.
  • New provisions exist for the prevention of communicable diseases. Consequently, national programmes on healthcare-associated infections and antibiotic resistance can be conceived and implemented. In regard to vaccinations the act proposes a national programme as well as a national plan for vaccination. Some new preventative measures relating to lifestyle, working conditions and the environment are scheduled.
  • Laboratories that carry out microbiological investigations to identify communicable diseases now require authorisation from Swissmedic. This obligation to obtain authorisation replaces the previous inconsistent and complicated accreditation and authorisation system..
  • The existing indemnification system in cases of vaccination damage has been developed further. State benefits in the form of compensation for non-material damage have been explicitly incorporated in the Act. In addition, a centralised procedure at the federal level enables the uniform treatment of applications throughout Switzerland.
  • The Confederation is responsible for the supervision of the implementation of the EpidA and coordinates the cantonal measures as needed. It also ensures international coordination. The Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) is the competent authority in Switzerland for International Health Regulations (IHR) and thus the contact point for WHO on certain public health events, in particular those which may constitute a public health emergency of international concern.

The Ordinances in brief

Links to the Act and to the Ordinances may be found here:

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Last modification 08.10.2020

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Federal Office of Public Health FOPH
Communicable Diseases Division
Strategies, Principles and Programmes Section
Schwarzenburgstrasse 157
3003 Bern
Tel. +41 58 463 87 06

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