The International Health Co-operative Organisation, IHCO, added to its ranks and momentum following the board meeting held on 13 October in the city of Levis, Canada. Two new members have now joined the community of health co-operatives which in their different parts of the world all share an alternative approach to health care, based on people rather than the pursuit of profit.
The members of the board, chaired by Dr. José Carlos Guisado, extended their welcome to Vanessa Hammond, President of the Health Care Co-operatives Federation of Canada, an organisation which groups together numerous co-operatives providing health care services to over 1 million people in Canada. The board also approved the inclusion as an associate member of the Sanitas Foundation, which will represent NACSCU, the Polish National Association of Cooperative Savings & Credit Unions.
Another aspect discussed during the meeting, which involved delegates from Japan, Canada, Malaysia, Argentina and Spain, was the implementation of a partnership project with the World Health Organisation and the Alliance for Health Promotion.
The debate likewise focused on highlighting the ability of health co-operatives to withstand the effects of the economic crisis and to combat the destruction of employment. President Dr. Guisado proposed that the board could draw up a study to analyse how IHCO co-operatives assist the communities within which they operate in combating the problems caused by the economic crisis.
For his part Dr. Toshinori Ozeki, the delegate of the Japanese organisation HeW Coop, explained the recent issues which have arisen in his home country as a result of the negative impacts of recent tax measures and health care legislation on health cooperatives.
Another challenge similar to that seen in Japan is faced by Argentina’s health co-operatives, as explained by Dr Ricardo López, President of the FAESS, Federación Argentina de Entidades Solidarias de Salud. The law now treats all organisations providing health services equally, whether they are co-operatives or purely investment companies, thereby discriminating against solidarity-based health enterprises.