IHP Health and Community: Globalization, Culture, and Care (Fall)

Switzerland Letter Home

The cohort group in Switzerland

Greetings from Switzerland! While our visit here quickly comes to a close, we have been reflecting on all the wonderful opportunities that we have been afforded in the past two weeks. We have been warmly welcomed here by the Country Coordinator, Caroline Stierle-Werz, who oriented us to Basel, our home base, and gave us our first lesson in Swiss health care.  She also welcomed us to her workplace at a telemedicine clinic where patients can call in and receive advice from doctors without making office trips. 

Beyond the traditional medical practices we have learned about alternative and complementary forms of care, such as anthroposophy at the Eda Wegman Clinic where the focus is on the treatment of the entire being rather than disease. We also visited the home of anthroposophical theory, started by Rudolph Steiner, which has influences not only in health care, but also agriculture and education (ie: Waldorf Schools). We’ve also been privileged to have representatives from a local NGO, SolidarMed, and the Swiss Tropical Institute of Public Health visit our class to discuss their work in Europe and globally, and also to have visited the Swiss Tropical Institute and Roche Pharmaceuticals.

To wrap up the Switzerland program and bring greater depth to our learning, we participated in our first field research project. We interviewed people from Switzerland, France and Germany who shared their experiences with the national health care system in their respective countries. We were surprised to learn that there is strong demand for the compulsory health care system comprised of both public and private companies. Additionally, similar to the U.S., we found that dental care is expensive and can be difficult to obtain depending on ability to pay.

Being in a border town, we were very excited about the ease of travel between Switzerland, France and Germany and not only took advantage of this during our field research but also during our first weekend off. We had a group that ventured into the Black Forest of Germany for hiking, another that made their way to a picturesque French town, another that enjoyed the stereotypical Swiss town of Lucerne and yet another who did a 75 km bike trip through all three countries! In our free time during the week, we’ve casually floated down the (Rhine) Rhein, a very popular activity in Basel, spent time doing yoga and Frisbee on ancient fortress grounds, indulged in lots of delicious cheese and chocolate and met up with Swiss students who have shown us around the town.

Considering the fact that we have only been together for two weeks, our group has bonded quickly and we already feel like family. We spent a considerable amount of time in the first few days of orientation learning about each other and discussing our group dynamics. We are anxiously awaiting the changes that will accompany our move to India. We are appreciative and happy to have had this time together in Switzerland and we are excited for our next adventure!

Until next time from India,
The IHP Health and Community Fall 2011 Cohort

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Credits: 16

Duration: Fall, 16 weeks

Program Sites:
USA, India, Brazil, South Africa

Prerequisites: None. Coursework in public health, anthropology, biology, or related field recommended.

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