Swiss health foreign policy

Switzerland’s health foreign policy is an instrument enabling the country to adopt a coordinated approach and a coherent position on global health at the international level.

Discours d'ouverture du Conseiller fédéral Alain Berset lors de la 71ème Assemblée mondiale de la Santé, Genève (CH), 21 mai 2018 (©WHO / A. Tardy)
Federal Councillor Alain Berset giving the opening address at the 71st World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland, on 21 May 2018 (©WHO / A. Tardy)

Promotion of health and well-being for all

On 15 May 2019, the Federal Council adopted an updated version of its health foreign policy covering the period from 2019 to 2024.  This policy enables federal players to follow a uniform approach to international cooperation with other countries, international organisations and other international stakeholders with the aim of achieving the highest attainable standard of health for all.

The Federal Council intends to play an international role in the six priority action areas listed below:

    1. Health security and humanitarian crises

    2. Access to medicine

    3. Sustainable healthcare and digitalisation

    4. Determinants of health

    5. Global health governance

    6. Addiction policy

The six action areas covered by the health foreign policy were defined in consultation with cantonal, private-sector, research and civil society stakeholders, as well as other interested parties. Synergies exist between the various action areas and associated activities.

The COVID-19 pandemic elevated health to the forefront of the global political agenda, leading to a temporary shift in priorities for Swiss health foreign policy towards pandemic management. The action areas identified by the health foreign policy were highly relevant in this crisis context and have all been successfully implemented. Given the numerous global health challenges on the horizon, it is now crucial to refocus on the overall implementation of health foreign policy priorities. For this reason, the Federal Council decided on 20 November 2023 to extend the Swiss health foreign policy until 2028.

Policy adapted to the international context

In the process of adapting Switzerland’s health foreign policy to the international context, recent global developments and new health challenges were taken into account. These include the adoption of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, replacing the Millennium Development Goals. The Health Foreign Policy 2019–2024 adopted by the Federal Council against this background maintains the general orientation of the preceding programme, but it encompasses six action areas closely aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda. This should enable Switzerland to contribute even more effectively to national and international health promotion.

Coherent international approach

The revision of Switzerland’s health foreign policy was designed to ensure consistency between the development of national policy and Switzerland’s international efforts in the health sector. In view of the complexity of relations among the numerous international health actors, Switzerland was one of the first countries to adopt an interdepartmental strategy for health foreign policy. This instrument enables Switzerland to develop a coordinated and coherent health policy at the national and international level. The Health Foreign Policy 2019–2024 will be reviewed within six years at most.

Following a three-year mid-term review, the Federal Council has opted to extend the current strategy for an additional four years. The existing six priority areas will continue to be the central focus.


Last modification 08.04.2024

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