The Swiss Times - Swiss News in English

Old trenches in consultation on partial revision of the Epidemics Act

Updated at 25 Mar 2024 2:40 pm

Discrimination against the unvaccinated and submission to the World Health Organization or a welcome sharpening of responsibilities. The arguments of opponents and supporters of a partial revision of the Epidemics Act differ widely - from the SVP to the FDP and the center to the Greens.

The Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Public Health (GDK) has called for the responsibility for measures in the special situation to remain with the cantons. From the cantons' point of view, however, the Confederation must assume overall strategic leadership in the special situation, according to a statement at the end of the consultation process.

According to the GDK, the Epidemics Act not only applies in the event of a health crisis, but must also work in everyday life. Early detection and prevention are the most effective means of averting health risks and subsequent measures for the population and the economy.

The GDK also welcomes the fact that the rules on the financing of tests, vaccinations and medicines are to be defined in advance and thus simplified. The Covid-19 pandemic has shown that the current financing models reach their limits in a health crisis.

During the pandemic from early 2020 to early 2023, coordination between the federal government and the cantons was repeatedly criticized. The Federal Council now wants to counteract this with amendments to the Epidemics Act.

The national government now wants to be able to prescribe preparations for a special situation to the cantons. A legal basis for issuing the controversial certificates proving vaccination or recovery is also to be written into the Epidemics Act.

The Center Party welcomes the revision of the Epidemics Act in principle, as it announced. The party emphasizes how important it considers the clarification of competencies between the federal government and the cantons, the promotion of digitalization in the healthcare sector, the improvement of the data basis and improvements in the security of care to be.

Expansion of digitization

In the opinion of the center, the effort for data entry must be as low as possible and the federal data basis as broad as possible. This would make it easier to process and merge data from the cantons, which would greatly simplify the analysis.

The center is in favour of the federal government's data being made available to the public in anonymized form for research purposes. This would enable private research activities - and knowledge about a pathogen could be deepened.

The FDP welcomes "the Federal Council drawing lessons from the pandemic", as the party announced. It is also calling for more speed in the digitalization of medicine. Compulsory vaccination should be avoided; "this would be too great an encroachment on personal freedom", wrote the FDP.

The Greens also welcome the proposed partial revision of the Epidemics Act in principle, as they informed the Keystone-SDA news agency in response to an inquiry. In particular, the party cites various new powers for the federal government to identify, monitor and combat communicable diseases.

The Greens also mention the programmatic anchoring of the One Health approach, which focuses on the interrelationships between humans, animals and the environment, the strengthening of global health protection and the various measures to combat antimicrobial resistance. This will strengthen health protection overall.

Strengthening fundamental rights

However, the Greens are also calling for the Federal Council's legislative proposals to be amended: This involves strengthening fundamental rights as well as economic support measures for companies and the population.

Meanwhile, the SVP "categorically" rejects the partial revision of the Epidemics Act in this form, as it announced. The party is calling on the Federal Council to "first thoroughly and critically review the measures and processes taken during the coronavirus pandemic".

In principle, it is right to revise the Epidemics Act. However, the current draft does nothing other than transfer these measures into ordinary law and make them permanent. The draft also ties Switzerland unilaterally to the World Health Organization (WHO), which is "unacceptable" for the SVP.

The party also rejects "the lack of protective measures against discrimination against unvaccinated people or people without a vaccination certificate", it added.

The SP has not commented on the Federal Council's proposal for a partial revision of the Epidemics Act.

©Keystone/SDA

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