Altdorf - Annegret Hannawa, ambassador of the Swiss canton of Uri and professor at the University of Lugano (USI), has established the European Institute for Safe Communication in Altdorf, together with Thierry Girard, Chief Physician at the University Hospital Basel. The aim of the Institute is to reduce vulnerability to safety risks.

USI professor establishes European Institute for Safe Communication in Uri
The Wilhelm Tell monument in Altdorf (Image:


Annegret Hannawa, ambassador of the Swiss canton of Uri, is seeking to anchor effective interpersonal communication in high-risk areas as a means of avoiding serious and preventable harm. Hannawa, who is also a professor at the Faculty of Communication, Culture and Society of the USI, and Thierry Girard, Chief Physician and Deputy Head of Anaesthesiology at the University Hospital Basel, have founded the European Institute for Safe Communication with this aim.

The Institute is based in Altdorf, in the Swiss canton of Uri. According to a press release issued by the business promotion department for the canton of Uri, this location was deliberately chosen “because it is located in the geographical center of Switzerland and culturally influenced by the values of William Tell.”

The Institute’s aim is to prevent harm from occurring in aviation, emergency rescue, healthcare and crisis settings. According to the Institute website, this mission has two main focuses: the first is to provide up-to-date evidence-based education and training materials, and the second is to define “safe practice” guidelines for specific areas of application. In its first project, the Institute is investigating communication challenges in Swiss hospitals. The Quality Manager at the Kantonsspital Uri (cantonal hospital Uri) is also on the project team.

The Institute says there has been a common misconception of communication as a linear process of imparting information, rather than of understanding. It explains that its "absolute priority" is to make evidence-based, safe communication practices more error-resilient across different situations and professions. “Because successful communication practice happens between all participants, and it works the same way everywhere.” ce/mm

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