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If you’re arriving from Europe, North America or Australasia, you don’t need any jabs for Switzerland, and a visit is unlikely to present significant health problems. Virtually all travellers’ afflictions arise from a lack of awareness of the impact of the high Alpine environment on those used to lowland life.

The best readily accessible source of information about travel health matters is www.cdc.gov operated by the US government’s Centers for Disease Control. In Britain, pick up the Department of Health’s free booklet Health Advice for Travellers, available at post offices, by phone on 0800/555777, or at www.open.gov.uk/doh/hat. The booklet includes an application for Form E111, which entitles all EU citizens to free medical care across the EU and EEA, including Liechtenstein but not including Switzerland.

The Swiss have no public, state-run health service, and also no reciprocal arrangements for healthcare with other countries, so you must pay upfront for all medical services – none of which comes cheap – and claim the costs back from your insurers later; make very sure you hang onto full doctors’ reports, prescription details and all receipts to back up your claim. A quick chat with a doctor is likely to cost in the order of £20–30/$30–50 inside normal business hours, perhaps double at other times; lengthier consultations and any kind of procedures or treatments will cost substantially more.

Virtually every hospital (Spital, hôpital, ospedale) has some kind of 24-hour service: ask tourist-office staff and/or your embassy for details of the nearest (or least expensive) one. Every district has a rota system whereby one local pharmacy (Apotheke, pharmacie, farmacia) stays open outside normal shopping hours: each pharmacy will have a sign in the window telling you where the nearest open one is. Local newspapers also have details.

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