One particularly telling example of the power of health cooperatives is to be found in the Philippines, where the joint efforts of VICTO National Cooperative Federation and Development Center and the NGO PHANSUP have set up a co-operative to provide maternity and infant health services and healthcare training for underprivileged families.
Mr. Roberto Nebrida, one of the project managers, met with IHCO’s Chairperson Dr. José Carlos Guisado in Barcelona on March 12. His aim was to learn at first hand how the health co-operatives operate and to examine organisational aspects, with the aim of adapting them and so enhancing co-operative developments in his own country.
The project, known as EVAcoh in reference to the first mother recorded in the Bible, Eve, aims to improve access to and usage of healthcare by the most underprivileged sectors of the population in the Philippine region of Eastern Visayas.
According to Mr Nebrida, the region is the 3rd worst part of the Philippines to become a mother, with 162 mothers dying for every 100,000 babies born, while it also has the second-highest number of child pregnancies and under-5 mortality rates.
Figures which demonstrate that the current Philippine health system, which depends on the government and on the private sector, is not sufficient. The EVAcoh project supports public-private partnership and promotes the so-called “third leg” of the system, comprising co-operatives. The vision of the project is to consolidate a network of social health enterprises, managed and governed by co-operatives.
The Philippines is a country with a co-operative tradition, in particular in the financial sector, with 8% of the population associated with one of more than 20,000 co-operatives which contribute 4.2% to the Philippines GDP, providing employment for more than 103,000 people.