Inhouse SeminarPublished on 27.02.2024

Presentation by Séveric Yersin on the history of the Epidemics Act

On February 22, 2024, Séveric Yersin, a Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) doctoral student at the University of Basel, gave a presentation titled «La Loi sur les Épidémies (1800-1921): Histoire d'une centralisation sanitaire» at the Institute of Federalism. The lecture highlighted the historical development of legislative measures to combat epidemics in Switzerland, from the earliest legislative efforts to modern health laws. It demonstrated how society responded to various health crises over time, how legislation was adapted, and the role of the Swiss federal system in this context.

The social and political debate on compulsory vaccination against smallpox, which was to be enshrined in the draft of the first Epidemics Act presented in 1879 but ultimately failed in the referendum on 30 June 1882, was particularly vivid. This reflects the public perception of health crises, which the speaker illustrated with examples from different eras. Following the presentation, a discussion session allowed attendees to ask questions and debate the significance of historical findings for present and future healthcare policy decisions.

The event was part of the research project «Overcoming crises: Strengthening democracy, human rights and federalism» (NRP 80).