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CH 4.21

Switzerland spent US $3.1 billion in official development assistance (ODA) in 2019, making ODA spend 0.42% of its gross national income (GNI). The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) has identified the following priorities in health: 1) the strengthening of health systems; 2) the fight against communicable and noncommunicable diseases; and 3) the improvement of sexual, reproductive, maternal, neonatal and child health. The SDC is active in low and middle-income countries (in both stable and fragile contexts), as well as in transition countries. Switzerland is a top donor in mental health and has a high level of interest in mental health issues. The Federal Council is prioritizing a human rights policy approach to addiction, as outlined in the Swiss Health Foreign Policy 2019-2024.

Global mental health support

The SDC, in partnership with the WHO, implemented a project - Non-Communicable Diseases Prevention and Health Promotion in Ukraine - focusing on alcohol and tobacco prevention. The SDC also worked to reform the mental health system in Bosnia and Herzegovina. 

Examples of support to NGOs working in mental health include: to Tahaddi (an NGO based out of Lebanon focusing on education), and support to The Gaza Community Mental Health Programme (GCMHP). Switzerland has been supporting the Competence Centre since 1997 and along with Sweden and Norway covered around three-quarters of its budget. Switzerland has also funded the Regional Psychosocial Support Initiative (REPSSI) in South Africa with Sweden.  

Switzerland is also a member of the MHPSS donor group.

Strategy for global mental health

The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) is committed to treating mental illness as a non-communicable disease and integrating mental health into bilateral programmes. The SDC focuses on reforms to improve community-based services and offering psychosocial support to people who have been confronted with violence. This includes support to women who have experienced gender based violence in the Great Lakes region of Africa and young people affected by HIV/AIDS in southern Africa. 

The Swiss Health Foreign Policy document highlights addiction policy as a priority area.

Domestic mental health

Switzerland does not have a stand-alone domestic mental health law. Mental health is included in the Federal Council’s Health Policy Strategy 2020–2030. The Federal Council also has a separate national addiction strategy and dementia strategy. 

For further information, see WHO Mental Health Atlas 2014 Country Profile and WHO MiNDbank for further resources.

Key stakeholders

Implementing agencies: Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the Economic Cooperation and Development Division of the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO).

Key decision makers

The Federal Department of Foreign Affairs is headed by Ignazio Cassis, who has a history in public health 

Director General of the SDC, Ambassador Manuel Sager 

Deputy Director General, Head of Humanitarian Aid Department and Head of the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit (SHA), Ambassador Manuel Blesser.

Financing global mental health

According to IHME data, from 2007-2019 Switzerland contributed US $45.9 million USD in DAMH. This figure is only representative of government resources.


Global health overview

In 2019, Switzerland provided $270 million in development assistance to health, according to IHME data.

Switzerland has made pledges and contributions to the following to global initiatives:

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