Cooperation with neighbouring States

In matters of public health, Switzerland's neighbouring States are important partners. Joint discussions and cooperation produce valuable input that can be used to reform the health system and protect the health of the population.

Unterzeichnung Schlusserklärung
Signature of the final declaration at the 5th meeting of the Health Quintet in Zurich on 15 September 2019. From left to right: Mauro Pedrazzini, Minister of Social Affairs, Liechtenstein; Jens Spahn, Federal Minister of Health, Germany; Alain Berset, Federal Councillor, Switzerland; Dr Brigitte Zarfl, Minister of Labour, Social Affairs, Health and Consumer Protection, Austria; Anne Calteux, Ministry of Health, Luxembourg

Importance of cooperation

Cooperation with neighbouring States is based on a number of different aspects:

  • Health systems with identical features. I.e. Austria and Germany also have a federal division of competences.
  • Similar public health challenges, including the response to be given to the issue of dementia, developing the quality of health systems and price controls for drugs.
  • Border regions have a particular need for cooperation in order to ensure the continuity of healthcare provision.

The “Health Quintet”

The "Health Quintet" is an annual meeting of health ministers from the German-speaking States, which is held in an informal setting. Austria, Germany, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg and Switzerland take turns to host the meeting. The meeting is not limited to ministerial level but also deepens the cooperation and exchanges at expert level. Eventually, the platform facilitates the launch of joint health initiatives.

Areas and forms of cooperation

Cooperation takes place at different levels and on different platforms.

  • Bilateral exchanges with the neighbouring States take regularly place at ministerial level, sometimes in the context of multilateral events. These contacts have been intensified over the past few years in compliance with the Health2020 strategy.

  • Some formal cross-border cooperation exist with our neighbouring countries in the form of pilot projects or agreements. Furthermore, a framework agreement on cross-border cooperation in the field of health has been signed in 2016 with France but not yet ratified.

  • Discussions between experts are also organised to exchange best practices and to deal with a wide range of health topics.
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Strategy Health2020

Going forward the Swiss healthcare system has to maintain its high quality and remain fundable and accessible to everyone. This is the goal of the 36 measures set out in the federal administration’s Health2020 strategy. Find out more here.

Last modification 17.09.2019

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Federal Office of Public Health FOPH
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EU and neighbouring States Section
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