Home Institution

Washington University in Saint Louis

Publication Date

Spring 2015

Program Name

Switzerland: Global Health and Development Policy


Switzerland is home to many migrants, and migration exacerbates health risks. In addition to physical health problems, migrants are more likely than Swiss nationals to face mental health challenges and cultural barriers, which complicate their experiences seeking healthcare. Similarly, clinicians encounter numerous challenges related to the special circumstances of migrant patients. As a response to the specific health needs of migrants, hospital networks and migrant support organizations promote the migrant health situation. However, these services are not ubiquitous in Switzerland, partly due to the partial freedoms of each canton to create its own health policy. This paper explores the barriers to access to quality healthcare services for migrants in Switzerland and assesses the Swiss health system’s responses to confront these barriers. Some ways that the Swiss health system confronts the health problems faced by migrants are facilitation of communication by community interpreters, cross-cultural competency education for clinicians, and promotion of health literacy. Transcultural psychiatry and group therapy methods are employed to address the additional mental health challenges for migrants. A specific focus on vulnerable migrant populations including asylum seekers and undocumented immigrants in the canton of Vaud highlights the challenges faced at by migrant groups a local level.


Community-Based Research | Demography, Population, and Ecology | Eastern European Studies | Family, Life Course, and Society | Health Policy | Health Services Administration | Inequality and Stratification | International and Area Studies | Medical Humanities | Medicine and Health | Public Health Education and Promotion | Race and Ethnicity


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