Swiss Health Foreign Policy

Switzerland’s health foreign policy is a political instrument that enables Switzerland to adopt a coordinated approach to, and a coherent position on, global health at an 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)

Promoting the health and wellbeing of 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 protection and humanitarian crises

    2. Access to medicine

    3. Sustainable healthcare and digitalisation

    4. Health determinants

    5. Governance of the global health regime

    6. Addiction policy

As regards health protection and humanitarian crises, for example, one of Switzerland’s aims is to improve protection against global health risks for the Swiss population. In pursuit of this aim, it is involved in efforts within the World Health Organization (WHO) to strengthen the international system set up to detect, monitor, prevent and combat transmissible diseases. Furthermore, it is helping to combat the growing problem of resistance to conventional antibiotics, primarily by promoting action to prevent infectious diseases, develop new antibiotics and provide coordination at international level. Finally, Switzerland is working to ensure access to care in crisis situations in all countries.

Alignment with the international context

Global developments in recent years and new health-related challenges were also factored into the process of aligning Swiss health foreign policy with the international context. In particular, these include replacing the UN’s Millennium Development Goals with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It was in this context that the Federal Council adopted the Health Foreign Policy 2019–2024. The policy follows the same general direction as the preceding programme, but includes six action areas that are closely aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN’s 2030 Agenda. This is to enable Switzerland to make an even more effective contribution to national and international health promotion.

The need for consistency on the international stage

Switzerland’s health foreign policy has been updated with the aim of ensuring that the national policy develops in a way that is consistent with Switzerland’s international involvement in health. Responding to the complex nature of relations between the many different players involved in health at international level, Switzerland became one of the first countries to adopt an interdepartmental health foreign policy strategy. This instrument enables Switzerland to develop a coordinated, coherent public health policy at both national and international level. The six action areas addressed by the health foreign policy were identified in conjunction with stakeholders in the cantons, private sector, research and civil society, as well as other affected players. There is interaction between the action areas and the activities associated with each. The Health Foreign Policy 2019–2024 will be reviewed in six years’ time at the latest.

The health foreign policy addresses the following stakeholders:

Federal bodies, such as the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH), the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), the Federal Institute of Intellectual Property and the Swiss Conference of the Cantonal Ministers of Public Health; medical and scientific institutes, including hospitals, clinics, universities and research centres; other non-State players, specifically foundations, associations, non-governmental organisations and the private sector.


Last modification 02.03.2020

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