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Poverty can damage your health!

Against poverty that damages health – against sickness that causes poverty

The Swiss Health Cooperation Symposium

Poverty damages health. Conversely, health is a key to social and economic development and to overcoming poverty. This is true not only in poor countries and societies, but in Switzerland as well, where studies on the inter-relationship between poverty and health are causing serious concern.

A health policy whose scope extends beyond healthcare must also confront the twin problems of poverty and the battle to eliminate it. And in healthcare itself, the question arises of equality of access to healthcare for the poor.

This year’s Swiss Health Cooperation Symposium spotlighted options for health work with the poor and health work aimed at overcoming poverty, and also focused on aspects of combating poverty relevant to health.

The symposium started with a striking illustration of the kind of poverty that causes illness and the illnesses caused by poverty. We sent René Schraner, a film-maker based in Basel, to the mountains of Kyrgyzstan, to a remote province of Haiti – and to Bern. The films documented impressively his encounters with families hit by poverty and illness.

These film portraits formed the starting point for a wider-ranging and in-depth view of the situation in a series of lectures and discussions. Experts from Switzerland and other countries presented their strategies for breaking out of the vicious circle of poverty, social inequality, destitution and sickness as a basis for discussion and described approaches for intervention within and outside the health sector.

During the symposium the 41 member organizations of the Medicus Mundi Schweiz network presented their manifesto “Health for All – a realistic project” which reflects the contribution made by the non-governmental organizations in Switzerland to overcoming the global health crisis and to achieving health for all.


Medicus Mundi Switzerland. Network Health for All
Murbacherstrasse 34, CH-4013 Basel,
Responsible for the symposium: Thomas Schwarz, Co-Managing Director
Phone +41 61 383 1810,

Specialist input from: Nick Lorenz, Swiss Tropical Institute, Basel; Thomas Vogel, advimed, Geneva; Beat Stoll, IMSP, Geneva University; Daniel Mäusezahl, SDC

Sponsors: The events organized by the Medicus Mundi Switzerland network are supported by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation SDC.