Health – a human right and a requirement for development

Health is a human right, but one that is still not guaranteed for more than a billion people. The health inequalities that persist today hinder social, economic and sustainable development. That is why the SDC works to improve the health situation of people in low and middle income countries. To do so, it deploys Swiss expertise wherever possible to build and develop good-quality and effective health systems.

The SDC's focus

Switzerland views essential healthcare as a key requirement for economic and social development. It also considers the inequities in the provision of essential healthcare to be an unacceptable violation of fundamental human rights. That is why the SDC focuses its efforts to improve health on the needs of the poorest people.

Improving the health of the world's poorest has a direct link to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which applies to all countries. In goal 3 of the agenda, the international community, including Switzerland, has promised to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all.  The health sector has a key role to play here. In order to reduce social inequalities and foster sustainable development, access to a well-functioning health system is essential. That is why in the area of health the SDC focuses on good governance, strengthening the role and ownership of communities and health service users, and developing effective structures:

  • strengthening health systems with the aim of providing essential healthcare for all
  • controlling communicable and non-communicable diseases
  • improving sexual and reproductive health and rights as well as mother and child health
  • mainstreaming the fight against HIV/AIDS in non-health related sectors

Context

Healthcare is the responsibility of both governments and the communities affected. Strengthening good governance helps significantly in ensuring that the available resources are used efficiently and for the health needs of the people.

Switzerland has a great deal of expertise in the health sector. This know-how already plays a key role for many of its partner countries which are building and developing their health systems today. Through its strategic partnerships with Swiss NGOs, research institutes and the private sector, the SDC uses this knowledge to provide targeted expertise, products and services for its partner countries. It promotes innovative approaches tailored to the local context and sustainable practices that lead to improvements in health in its partner countries.

Nonetheless, major progress in this one area should not detract from other existing challenges that remain. Although absolute poverty is decreasing, the health gap between the rich and the poor is growing. For almost one billion people, the world's poorest of the poor, access to clean water, sanitation, enough food, a balanced diet and healthcare is still not a reality.

Documents

Current projects

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Bosnia and Herzegovina: Improving nursing care for better health services

A nurse sitting in a treatment room.

01.12.2017 - 30.11.2021

In Bosnia and Herzegovina nurses make up the largest group of healthcare professionals. However, the potential offered by their proximity to local communities is underexploited. They are often responsible for administrative tasks rather than patient care and, with limited career prospects, many nurses are attracted by better working conditions in Western Europe. This is regrettable because nurses and the care they provide can be a gateway to better health services for people living in rural areas and marginalised communities.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Health
Education
Health systems strengthening
Primary health care
Education facilities and training

01.12.2017 - 30.11.2021


CHF 5'125'000



Effective management and prevention of Non-Communicable Diseases

: A woman doctor examining a woman patient.

01.01.2017 - 31.12.2021

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), non-communicable diseases are the biggest cause of death worldwide. On an international average 60% of deaths are linked to NCDs.  This rate is often much higher in low-to-middle-income countries.  This is the case in Kyrgyzstan where cardiovascular diseases, cancer and diabetes account for 80% of deaths

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Kyrgyzstan
Health
Primary health care
Health systems strengthening

01.01.2017 - 31.12.2021


CHF 4'810'000



Lebanon: education and care in a neighbourhood shared by Lebanese, Syrians and Palestinians

Inside a classroom where a woman teacher is sitting in front of a group of children showing them a book.

01.08.2016 - 31.12.2020

The inhabitants of Hay el Gharbé in southern Beirut live in a very precarious situation. Since 2012, a number of Syrian refugees have joined their neighbourhood. The SDC supports the Lebanese NGO Tahaddi, which has made a real difference in people’s lives here – such as with its education centre, helping a large number of children to (re)discover schooling and escape their daily hardships. 

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Lebanon
Education
Health
Primary education
Primary health care
Medical services

01.08.2016 - 31.12.2020


CHF 1'270'000



Healthy people and animals in Ethiopia thanks to an interdisciplinary project: Jigjiga University One Health Initiative

African farmer ploughing a field with an ox.

01.01.2015 - 31.12.2020

Nomadic pastoralist communities, which constitute one tenth of Ethiopia’s population, have little access to health services. In the Jigjiga University One Health Initiative, the SDC is helping to establish local healthcare services by supporting an interdisciplinary centre of excellence at Jigjiga University in eastern Ethiopia.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Ethiopia
Health
Health systems strengthening
Primary health care

01.01.2015 - 31.12.2020


CHF 2'100'000



Swiss Malaria Group

01.01.2024 - 31.12.2025

Founded in 2007 as an informal network, the Swiss Malaria Group (SMG) has undergone organisational development leading to a formalized multi-stakeholder group with a strategic focus on raising awareness about malaria and the comparative advantage of Switzerland to defeat the disease. Organised as an association, with an Executive Secretariat hosted by Medicus Mundi Switzerland, the 15 organisations help accelerating malaria elimination, through innovative control measures, knowledge and financial flows.


Intégration de la santé mentale dans les soins de santé primaire au Burundi

01.01.2024 - 31.12.2031

L’intégration de la santé mentale dans les services de santé primaire du Burundi vise à renforcer le système de prise en charge des personnes atteintes de maladies mentales post traumatiques. La Suisse est un partenaire important du Burundi qui a un intérêt à contribuer à mettre fin au cycle de violences qui trouvent leur origine en partie dans des traumatismes vécus mais non traités. Le programme appuie les institutions nationales concernées, le système de formation spécialisée et vise l’amélioration du cadre législatif en santé mentale.



Innovations for efficient quality health systems

01.09.2020 - 31.12.2026

Despite enormous progress in access to healthcare in low and middle-income countries, nearly 9 million people still die every year in these countries because of poor quality of care. SDC supports the establishment of a global design lab for the development of innovative tools to enhance quality measurements that form the base for cost-effective investments into quality improvements. The lab will benefit from Swiss research knowhow.


Global co-operative movement for health

01.06.2020 - 31.12.2026

Many low- and middle-income countries strive to extend access to essential health services to the entire population. The private co-operative movement has potential to complement government efforts by providing efficient low-cost services for rural populations and informal sector workers. Following the principle of subsidiarity, SDC help the movements’ efforts establish a global platform for capacity strengthening of co-operatives.


ESTHER Switzerland (Ensemble pour une Solidarité Thérapeutique Hospitalière En Réseau)

01.12.2019 - 30.11.2024

ESTHER Switzerland provides a mechanism for systematic mobilisation and use of Swiss healthcare expertise to strengthen human resource capacities for health and consequently the quality of service delivery in low and middle-income countries. ESTHER promotes institutional partnerships between Swiss hospitals or research entities with institutions of the same kind in partner countries so as to address priority needs in terms of service delivery.


Dynamic electronic decision trees for managing childhood illness (DYNAMIC)

15.11.2019 - 31.12.2022

Every year, more than five million children die before the age of five due to preventable or treatable causes, most of them in developing countries. New technologies combined with rapid tests can improve diagnosis and management of sick children and reduce health costs. This collaborative research project makes use of Switzerland’s knowledge in digital technologies to improve the health of children and reduce unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions in low resource settings.


Improving Access to Essential Medicines and Basic Technologies for Non-communicable Diseases

01.11.2019 - 31.12.2031

Access to medicines and technologies for non-communicable diseases is poor in low and middle-income countries. Building on the Swiss comparative advantage (broader access engagement as a country with a big pharma sector), the program addresses all components of the comprehensive framework for access to drugs, ranging from research and innovation to dispensing and use. It will also set up a dedicated global collaborative network for advocacy, information and innovation.

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