Strengthening health systems – Health coverage for all

Children under five and women living in remote regions benefit from better access to medical treatment thanks to Switzerland's efforts in the realm of family medicine. © SDC

Good governance and the efficient management of resources are key factors in a well-functioning health sector. The SDC promotes the strengthening of health care systems in developing and transition countries. Switzerland strives to promote universal health coverage through its activities both to establish social protection mechanisms and to advocate for access to quality health care for the most vulnerable. 

SDC focus

Financing health

The SDC's support for health sector reforms in its partner countries is based on a thorough analysis of the prevailing political, economic and social contexts. Its aim: to guarantee access to quality health services for the poorest.

A combination of research and action enables the SDC to encourage the development of innovative financing and payment mechanisms for health services. Its interventions are always aligned with national policies and priorities, and implemented in direct cooperation with its governmental, non-governmental and private partners in the health sector. This approach seeks to develop a form of social protection capable of preventing the most vulnerable members of society from plunging into poverty as a result of their expenditure on health-related problems. SDC projects focus on the public sector and providing support to public-private partnerships. 

Governance and participation

The SDC promotes efforts to establish better governance in the health sector and supports both governmental and non-governmental actors in this objective as they strive to develop a culture of accountability, wage war on corruption and achieve transparency in the allocation and utilisation of resources.

At the community level, the SDC supports health promotion initiatives which involve marginalised and disadvantaged population groups. All users are encouraged to participate in the management and follow-up of health services as this helps reduce access barriers to care and leads to better health outcomes. This process of social empowerment enables users to know and assert their rights, and allows health care professionals to better respond to the needs of the population by offering quality care.

Determinants of health

The health of individuals and communities depends on a multitude of economic, social, cultural and environmental factors. SDC projects give priority to cooperation and coordination between different sectors (water, agriculture, education, etc.) in order to influence the various factors that constitute "determinants of health". Its activities also aim to encourage behavioural change and ensure that the poorest of the poor can exercise their right to health.

The SDC cooperates with other federal departments and offices such as the Human Security Division (HSD) and the FDFA's Sectoral Foreign Policies Division, the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) and the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO).

Context

Faced with growing populations in the low-income countries and the ageing of the global population, establishing efficient and equitable health systems is a priority. However, health care systems in a large number of countries suffer from a lack of investment and poor management of the available resources, with services relying too heavily on external funding. As a result, infrastructure, technologies and equipment are lacking, and there is an acute shortage of qualified health workers. Furthermore, the absence of social protection mechanisms forces patients to cover a large part of the costs themselves, thereby exacerbating the inequalities in access to care. At the end of the day, the economic consequences of a poor health care system are hindering development in the countries concerned.

In its position on health for the post-2015 agenda, Switzerland aspires to maximise health for all in all life stages. The long-term objective is to achieve universal health coverage and take coordinated action on the social, economic, cultural and environmental determinants of health. After all, the conditions in which people are born, raised and work have an impact on their state of health. Adopting an approach to health that involves other sectors such as water, sanitation, education and food security is therefore absolutely essential to overcoming inequalities.

Documents

Swiss Contributions to Human Resources for Health Development in Low- and Middle-Income Countries, complete study (PDF, 102 Pages, 934.0 kB, English)

Swiss Contributions to Human Resources for Health Development in Low- and Middle-Income Countries, summary (PDF, 6 Pages, 3.3 MB, English)

Qualitative research on foreign health personnel in Switzerland and their recruitment (PDF, 635.5 kB, German)

WHO Global Strategy and Plan of Action on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property: the Contribution of Switzerland (PDF, 1.1 MB)

Human Resources for Health Development in Low- and Middle- Income Countries Health Brief (PDF, 4 Pages, 274.3 kB, English)

Health despite poverty: a SDC-Sponsored project changes people's perspective Central Asia Project Briefing (PDF, 4 Pages, 898.0 kB)


Healthcare for remote regions: an SDC project in Kyrgyzstan sets the standard Central Asia Project Briefing (PDF, 4 Pages, 809.4 kB)

Article on family doctors in Bosnia and Herzegovina (PDF, 1 Page, 54.7 kB, German)


Lessons learned from evaluations on community participation and civil society involvement in health (PDF, 291.8 kB, English)

Current projects

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BACKUP Health: Technical support for Global Fund country partners

01.09.2023 - 31.08.2027

The Global Fund aims at ending AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria as epidemics. It works with country-based partners. The coordination mechanism through which these partners operate often requires technical assistance. SDC’s support to BACKUP Health is meant to improve the effectiveness of the coordinating mechanisms in order to ensure that the activities supported by the Global Fund  benefit the poor and vulnerable populations. Experiences gathered by the BACKUP Health in countries will be used to influence strategic decisions at Board level.


Programme d’appui à la commercialisation du bétail en Afrique de l’Ouest

01.07.2023 - 31.12.2028

Dans la région ouest africaine, le secteur de l’élevage est une grande opportunité d’intégration économique et de création de richesses pour les populations et les pays. En complément au soutien au secteur dans les pays prioritaires, ce programme vise le renforcement de la chaine de valeur régionale des produits animaux au profit des éleveurs. L’accent est mis sur le renforcement du secteur privé et l’amélioration des politiques et pratiques régionales d’échanges en  produits animaux.


Sustainable water management for food security and nutrition in agriculture and food systems

01.07.2023 - 31.03.2027

Agriculture accounts globally for 70% freshwater use. Inefficient water use, water pollution, climate change and increasing global water demand puts agriculture under pressure, as well for smallholders. SDC can build on successful experiences in this domain and will support projects in Africa in ecologically sustainable water management in smallholder agriculture and food systems, improve smallholders’ economic and social situation and increase the resilience of their livelihoods.


Blue Peace: Unlocking the value of transboundary, multisectoral and transgenerational investments

01.07.2023 - 31.12.2029

In order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals government efforts do not suffice, large private capitals deployed towards development are needed. Switzerland has a comparative advantage as innovative finance hub. Building on this, SDC contributes to the development of innovative financial products that enable transboundary, multisectoral and transgenerational investments with aim to contribute to sustainable development and peace.


Ashshash: for men and women who have escaped trafficking

01.04.2023 - 31.03.2027

20,000 people (of whom 70% women) who have experienced trafficking will be economically and socially rehabilitated. Public and private institutions will provide employment or in-kind support for entrepreneurship to men and women who have escaped trafficking. The Government will better address the prevention of trafficking, protection of victims, prosecution of traffickers in the revision and enacting of policies, and create partnerships, for bringing about systemic changes.


Integrated Seed Sector Development (ISSD) Africa

01.03.2023 - 31.07.2026

Today, only 12 plant species and five animal species provide more than 75 percent of all human food. Quality seed and maintaining the agrobiodiversity are key concerns for food security and nutrition. Aiming at enhancing access of smallholders to quality seed of their choice, the Integrated Seed Sector Development in Africa programme combines public and private efforts. With its contribution and policy work, SDC supports healthy food systems, as well in fragile contexts.


Strengthening democratic local governance

01.01.2023 - 30.12.2026

The project aims at supporting the democratic transition and the peace efforts in Myanmar. Using a decentralized budget support approach to all townships of one state in the Southeast of the country, it will strengthen township’s participatory planning and budgeting capacity. The project will also deepen the community’s capacity to demand public services. Additionally it will support national level policy discussions based on this experience.


Global Measurement of Diet Quality

01.01.2023 - 31.12.2025

Diets are the number one risk factor in the global burden of disease and multiple forms of malnutrition co-exist with overweight and obesity being the fastest growing form, particularly among poor populations in developing countries. Routinely collected information on Diet Quality is necessary to better understand dietary trends, help to create awareness, and inform policies to improve diets and health outcomes. Therefore, SDC supports an international initiative to develop diet quality measurements.


Joint Peace Fund

01.01.2023 - 31.12.2027

After 60 years of conflict, the government and 8 Ethnic Armed Groups have signed a National Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) in October 2015, opening up a unique opportunity to find lasting peace. The Joint Peace Fund is a multi-donor fund set up to channel coordinated international support for such efforts, including the implementation of the NCA and following political dialogue of the peace process, a requirement for development especially in border areas.


Global Governance on Food Security

01.01.2023 - 31.12.2024

Switzerland will strengthen its commitment for an inclusive and effective global architecture for food security and nutrition. Therefore, the SDC/GPFS will maintain the focus of its attention on  the Committee on World Food Security (CFS), which is the most inclusive policy platform for food security-related issues. The second focus will be on the coordination role of the UN system at interagency and policy levels. The participation of farmers’ organisations in country-based public investment programmes will also be facilitated, in line with the above-mentioned interventions.


Promoting Social Entrepreneurship in selected countries

01.01.2023 - 28.02.2026

This regional program with national implementation components supports Social Entrepreneurs (SEs) contributing to solving societal and environmental problems with a market-based approach. The contribution identifies and supports selected SEs and helps them to reach out to the poor. It serves the creation of employment and income for low-income households improving their livelihoods. SEs use innovative ideas and business models that are well-aligned with SDC’s objectives of poverty reduction.


Financement des fonds agricoles nationaux du Bénin (FinAgri)

01.12.2022 - 30.11.2030

Au Bénin, il n’existe pas de dispositif national pour le financement du secteur agricole (agriculteurs, éleveurs, artisans et entreprises agricoles). Par la présente initiative, la DDC veut soutenir l’Etat béninois et le secteur privé dans la mise en place des dispositifs communs et pérennes de financement du secteur. Le but est de renforcer la productivité, la compétitivité des productions agricoles et la résilience des systèmes de productions aux effets des variations climatiques.

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