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FOPH Switzerland - Federal Office of Public Health

The Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) belongs to the Federal Department of Home Affairs (FDHA). As an authority on the national level, it is – together with the 26 cantons – responsible for public health and for the development of the Swiss health policies. This includes the care sector and the social health and accident insurance, among other things. As supervisory authority of the compulsory basic insurance, the FOPH analyses and authorises the annually submitted premiums of the insurance companies.


The most important responsibility of the FOPH is the health promotion of all persons living in Switzerland.

On an international level, the FOPH represents Switzerland in all health-related issues towards other states and international organisations.

On a national level, the FOPH supervises the health of the population, in cooperation with the cantons. It plays a leading role in the shaping of the national health policies. The activities of the FOPH are manifold. Among other things, the FOPH is responsible for:

  • The maintenance and development of the social health and accident insurance. The FOPH defines which benefits have to be covered by the compulsory health insurance and supervises the social health and accident insurances. This also includes the authorisation of the health insurance premiums, especially regarding the financial security of the insurance companies, cost coverage and compliance with the legal regulations.
  • The supervision of contagious diseases in Switzerland. Therefore, the FOPH enacts the necessary regulations.
  • Nation-wide programmes, such as e.g. for the reduction of addictive behaviour (tobacco, alcohol, illegal drugs), for the promotion of healthy lifestyles (nutrition and exercise, health and environment) or on the issue of HIV/Aids.
  • Enactment and control of legal regulations concerning consumer protection (especially food, chemicals, medication, cosmetic products and commodities).
  • Enactment of legal regulations concerning training and further education of doctors, dentists, pharmacists and veterinarians as well as the issueing of the according federal diplomas.

Historical facts - milestones

The first health insurance companies were founded in the early 19th century.

The FOPH was founded in 1893 by the parliament. The reason for the founding was the introduction of mobility for medical staff. The new department was responsible for the issueing of federal diplomas for doctors and pharmacists. Other important responsibilities were the control of epidemics and food controls – tasks of which the FOPH is still responsible today. Over time, more tasks were added (see above).

In 1911, the Health and Accident Law KUVG was enacted. This remained the legal basis for health insurance until it was replaced by today’s Health Insurance Laws (KVG).

The KVG was adopted in a referendum and came into effect two years later. The new law was expected to have a cost-cutting effect and to ensure a high-quality basic medical care that could be afforded by everyone.

According to KVG, all persons living in Switzerland must have health insurance (basic insurance).

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