Country profile

Switzerland is a federal republic with a population of approximately 8.4 million people separated into three linguistic regions and cultures; German, French and Italian. Administratively, Switzerland is divided into 26 cantons with a high level of independence. Each canton thus has its own constitution, parliament, government and courts. Switzerland is one of the richest countries in the world with a nominal per capita GDP of $$61,360, with spending on health at 11.4% of GDP.  In 2010 the World Economic Forum ranked Switzerland as the most competitive country in the world, and is also considered to be the most innovative European country.

Healthcare in Switzerland is universal and financed through compulsory health insurance, regulated by the Federal Health Insurance Act of 1994. The Swiss healthcare system is a combination of public, subsidized private and all-private systems, and the insured has free choice among the relevant healthcare providers. There is also freedom of choice when selecting insurance companies, which are not allowed to discriminate among applicants.  Life expectancy at birth was 83.4 years in 2015, this is the second longest in the world. The quality of healthcare is high. However, healthcare spending in Switzerland is extremely high, and the Swiss spend the most money on healthcare in the world after the United States.


Policy responses

In Switzerland, health inequalities are not explicitly on the political health agenda, which can perhaps be explained by a relatively low degree of health inequalities. In comparison with other European countries, health inequalities are rather small in Switzerland, and appear to be stabilized after small increases during the last decades.
One fifth of the Swiss population is made up of foreigners, and federal level efforts to reduce health inequalities mostly focus on migrant groups. This has for example resulted in the Federal government’s strategy on Migration and Public Health 2008-2013.

An overview of policy responses addressing health inequalities in can be found in our Policy Database.


Good practices

An overview of projects and initiatives that are currently taking place or that have successfully been finalized, and that are addressing health inequality issues, can be found in our Project Database.

Key actors

Please find below an overview of key actors in Switzerland working on health inequality issues:


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Key resources

Please find below an overview of relevant documents addressing health inequality issues in Switzerland. Further publications can be found in our Publications Database.

  • Federal Strategy “Migration and Public Health 2008 – 2013
  • Les Klamydia’s is a Switzerland based organisation which aims at improving sexual health amongst lesbian women. As part of their campaign they have also produced a video clip that deals with safe sex methods, preventive gynaecologic care, prevention of STIs, etc. The video can be seen on their official website at:

Are you aware of any other key resources that should be added to this list?
Please let us know!

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