[Art .] Global health policy: ethical, spiritual and societal issues.



The Program Commission of the John Knox International Reformed Center (JKIRC) in partnership with Ethic Minds and wanted to offer a platform for meeting and exchange on ethical, spiritual and societal issues related to health policy. The theme of vaccination was finally chosen in order to cover a subject that was at the heart of current events and that was part of the vaccination week launched by the Confederation. This unique meeting brought together 11 representatives of different religious institutions, notably Muslim, Jewish and Protestant, the General Advisor to the Director of the World Health Organization (WHO), as well as doctors in the field, a lawyer from Paris and a representative of the media, including the President of the independent journalists of Switzerland.

This exchange took place while respecting the diversity of points of view of each participant based on their respective experience or to represent the voice of their institution. After the speakers’ interventions, the opportunity was given to launch the discussion and collect questions from the participants. Two aspects were articulated by the moderator to the speakers and participants, namely the positioning to be had between “prevention and vaccination” and “freedom and solidarity”. What emerged from this exchange was that while vaccine policy is largely supported by religious institutions and the WHO, overall the majority of speakers recognized that it poses a number of challenges on all levels.

It is true that individual freedom is being undermined and the right to choose must be respected as well as the right to gather for religious assemblies. An appeal was made to the Federal Council for more flexibility in this regard. Others also pointed out that the climate within religious institutions is not easy because communities are just as divided as within families and workplaces. While the figure of 5 million deaths has been articulated by the WHO, the reporter asks that this be put into perspective to better assess whether or not we should be concerned. The figures should be more contextualized and refer to a given period and in comparison to a benchmark. A participant raised the issue of the origin of the Coronavirus, which to date has not been isolated and remains to be explored.

The voice of the doctors was rather reassuring because even if they were exposed to patients with Covid-19, they were able to manage them without any deaths and without putting themselves in danger. They recommend that prevention is necessary, especially Vitamin C, D and Zinc. However, it is noted that among the participants, these elements were not known even if vitamin D had been recommended by Daniel Koch, former delegate of the FOPH to Covid-19, this aspect has been somewhat minimized in health policy. Nevertheless, they are more concerned about the care of those vaccinated with unusual side effects and wonder about what to expect in the medium and long term. As for the jurist, he drew attention to the obstacles to the laws and international conventions on rights and freedoms that have been greatly violated by an overly austere health policy throughout Europe.

This first meeting provided an opportunity for a greater diversity of viewpoints that have often not been heard by the general public or in the media. It also demonstrated that one could listen and hear the other on a subject that has become taboo for a year without feeling stigmatized by one’s environment. Vaccination may not be a panacea either and other means exist either in terms of prevention or to treat oneself in case of Covid-19.

Ethic Minds wishes to express its thanks to Mr. Ventz Sabev, Secretary of the Program Committee and to its Vice President, Mr. Christoph Stückelberger, for having allowed this warm meeting and offered a space for exchange in respect and sincerity in this historical place that is the John Knox International Reformed Center. We also thank and the John Knox Center team for their technical support which contributed to the smooth running of this meeting via zoom.

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