The payments are made to families with children who have celiac disease, which means they cannot consume foods with gluten such as pasta and bread.
The government has come under fire for the removal, with critics saying it places undue pressure on poorer families with children.
Why is there a ‘celiac’ subsidy in Switzerland?
In Switzerland, celiac disease has been placed on the list of ‘birth defects’, which thereby entitles anyone with a child with birth defects to a compensation payment.
The amounts paid range from CHF600 to CHF1450 per year. No replacement payments will be put in place.
The government has however now said that as the condition can be treated relatively easily, it should no longer be the target of compensation payments.
For example, Swiss health insurance pays for medications which can be used to treat the condition.
The government will phase out the payments, which are for each child under the age of 20 who genuinely has a celiac condition, on January 1st, 2022.
‘They don’t want to serve rice everyday’
While gluten free diets have grown in popularity in Switzerland and elsewhere in recent years, the amount of people who actually have the condition is relatively rare.
Around 80,000 people in Switzerland – roughly one percent of the population – genuinely have a celiac condition. Around 3000 people received the lump sum payment in 2020.
Tina Toggenburger, President of the IG Celiac Disease Association, told 20 Minutes that there would be huge financial implications for families who were forced to do without the subsidy.
“Those affected by celiac disease have to reckon with significant additional costs – around 200 francs per month – compared to a normal diet,” she said.
“Celiac disease is not a lifestyle disease, it has massive health implications. This must be taken into account in future decisions.”
Toggenburger said that while the medicines may be free, the additional costs of a gluten free diet would not be covered.
“Financially weak families have no means to pay their child so much more expensive food. And they don’t want to serve rice every day.”