Health, right to
On this page you will find legal guarantees and other regulations from the Swiss Federal Constitution, the European and international human rights treaties and further documents under international law. This list is not intended to be exhaustive, as regulations from other regional treaties and topically similar safeguarding provisions of international humanitarian law are not included.
Federal Constitution of the Swiss Confederation of 18 April 1999
(English is not an official language of the Swiss Confederation. This translation is provided for information purposes only and has no legal force.)
Article 41: (1) The Confederation and the Cantons shall, as a complement to personal responsibility and private initiative, endeavour to ensure that: [...]
(b) everyone has access to the health care that they require; [...]
(2) The Confederation and Cantons shall endeavour to ensure that everyone is protected against the economic consequences of old-age, invalidity, illness, accident, unemployment, maternity, being orphaned and being widowed.
(3) They shall endeavour to achieve these social objectives within the scope of their constitutional powers and the resources available to them.
(4) No direct right to state benefits may be established on the basis of these social objectives.
European Social Charter (revised)
Article 11 (The right to protection of health): With a view to ensuring the effective exercise of the right to protection of health, the Parties undertake, either directly or in cooperation with public or private organisations, to take appropriate measures designed inter alia:
(1) to remove as far as possible the causes of ill-health;
(2) to provide advisory and educational facilities for the promotion of health and the encouragement of individual responsibility in matters of health;
(3) to prevent as far as possible epidemic, endemic and other diseases, as well as accidents.
Article 13 (The right to social and medical assistance): With a view to ensuring the effective exercise of the right to social and medical assistance, the Parties undertake:
(1) to ensure that any person who is without adequate resources and who is unable to secure such resources either by his own efforts or from other sources, in particular by benefits under a social security scheme, be granted adequate assistance, and, in case of sickness, the care necessitated by his condition; [...]
(Switzerland has not ratified this Charter.)
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Article 25: (1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control. [...]
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
Article 12: (1) The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.
(2) The steps to be taken by the States Parties to the present Covenant to achieve the full realization of this right shall include those necessary for:
(a) The provision for the reduction of the stillbirth-rate and of infant mortality and for the healthy development of the child;
(b) The improvement of all aspects of environmental and industrial hygiene;
(c) The prevention, treatment and control of epidemic, endemic, occupational and other diseases;
(d) The creation of conditions which would assure to all medical service and medical attention in the event of sickness.
International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination
Article 5: In compliance with the fundamental obligations laid down in article 2 of this Convention, States Parties undertake to prohibit and to eliminate racial discrimination in all its forms and to guarantee the right of everyone, without distinction as to race, colour, or national or ethnic origin, to equality before the law, notably in the enjoyment of the following rights:
(e) Economic, social and cultural rights, in particular:
(iv) The right to public health, medical care, social security and social services;
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women
Article 12: (1) States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in the field of health care in order to ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women, access to health care services, including those related to family planning.
(2) Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph I of this article, States Parties shall ensure to women appropriate services in connection with pregnancy, confinement and the post-natal period, granting free services where necessary, as well as adequate nutrition during pregnancy and lactation.
Convention on the Rights of the Child
Article 24: (1) States Parties recognize the right of the child to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health and to facilities for the treatment of illness and rehabilitation of health. States Parties shall strive to ensure that no child is deprived of his or her right of access to such health care services.
(2) States Parties shall pursue full implementation of this right and, in particular, shall take appropriate measures:
(a) To diminish infant and child mortality;
(b) To ensure the provision of necessary medical assistance and health care to all children with emphasis on the development of primary health care;
(c) To combat disease and malnutrition, including within the framework of primary health care, through, inter alia, the application of readily available technology and through the provision of adequate nutritious foods and clean drinking-water, taking into consideration the dangers and risks of environmental pollution;
(d) To ensure appropriate pre-natal and post-natal health care for mothers;
(e) To ensure that all segments of society, in particular parents and children, are informed, have access to education and are supported in the use of basic knowledge of child health and nutrition, the advantages of breastfeeding, hygiene and environmental sanitation and the prevention of accidents;
(f) To develop preventive health care, guidance for parents and family planning education and services.
(3) States Parties shall take all effective and appropriate measures with a view to abolishing traditional practices prejudicial to the health of children.
(4) States Parties undertake to promote and encourage international co-operation with a view to achieving progressively the full realization of the right recognized in the present article. In this regard, particular account shall be taken of the needs of developing countries.
International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families
Article 28: Migrant workers and members of their families shall have the right to receive any medical care that is urgently required for the preservation of their life or the avoidance of irreparable harm to their health on the basis of equality of treatment with nationals of the State concerned. Such emergency medical care shall not be refused them by reason of any irregularity with regard to stay or employment.
(This Convention has not been ratified by Switzerland.)
Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Article 25 (Health): States Parties recognize that persons with disabilities have the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health without discrimination on the basis of disability. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure access for persons with disabilities to health services that are gender-sensitive, including health-related rehabilitation. In particular, States Parties shall:
(a) Provide persons with disabilities with the same range, quality and standard of free or affordable health care and programmes as provided to other persons, including in the area of sexual and reproductive health and population-based public health programmes;
(b) Provide those health services needed by persons with disabilities specifically because of their disabilities, including early identification and intervention as appropriate, and services designed to minimize and prevent further disabilities, including among children and older persons;
(c) Provide these health services as close as possible to people's own communities, including in rural areas;
(d) Require health professionals to provide care of the same quality to persons with disabilities as to others, including on the basis of free and informed consent by, inter alia, raising awareness of the human rights, dignity, autonomy and needs of persons with disabilities through training and the promulgation of ethical standards for public and private health care;
(e) Prohibit discrimination against persons with disabilities in the provision of health insurance, and life insurance where such insurance is permitted by national law, which shall be provided in a fair and reasonable manner;
(f) Prevent discriminatory denial of health care or health services or food and fluids on the basis of disability.
(This Convention has not been ratified by Switzerland.)
- International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
- Federal Act of 8 October 2004 on the Transplantation of Organs, Tissues and Cells (Transplantation Act)
- Federal Constitution of the Swiss Confederation of 18 April 1999 (Status as of 1 January 2011)
- European Social Charter (revised)
- Universal Declaration of Human Rights
- International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
- International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination
- Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women New York, 18 December 1979
- Convention on the Rights of the Child
- International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families
- Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
- Medicus Mundi Switzerland
- Healthtraining.org – Postgraduate Training Programmes in International Health
- World Health Organisation