World Health Organisation assembly in Geneva
A number of health-related international organisations have their headquarters in Switzerland, including the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Geneva. © UNPhoto/Eskinder Debebe

The FDFA contributes to Switzerland's foreign policy in the field of health, working together with various national and international actors. In order for Switzerland to be able to adopt a consistent position with its partners, it is important to reconcile their various interests and viewpoints.

Globalisation has made health a major foreign policy concern. There is a need for an internationally coordinated strategy to address current challenges in this area, such as the fight against pandemics and drug abuse, the link between health and the environment, improving access to medicines and the prevention and treatment of non-communicable diseases such as cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and chronic respiratory diseases.

Switzerland coordinates health-related issues within the scope of its national, foreign and development policies, to be able to play a credible role in international institutions and bodies and defend its own interests. To this end, it has developed an instrument to promote cooperation within the Federal Administration: the Swiss foreign policy on health, adopted by the Federal Council in 2012.
This policy establishes Switzerland's pioneering role in this regard at the international level.

International organisations

Switzerland is home to a number of international health organisations, such as the World Health Organization, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

Other international organisations, such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the World Trade Organization and the World Intellectual Property Organization, also deal with specific health-related matters. Switzerland seeks to adopt a consistent position across these various bodies.

Bilateral exchanges

Switzerland attaches great importance to bilateral exchanges with other nations. The Swiss healthcare system is considered one of the best in the world and is attracting growing interest from other countries. Pharmaceuticals account for about 39% of exported goods (2016), while the health sector accounts for around 12% of Switzerland's GDP (2016). It is therefore important for Switzerland to maintain contacts and exchange with other countries on each other's experiences.