Health cooperatives from Japan and South Korea exchange experiences

Delegates from South Korea visited Medical CO-OP Saitama, in Saitama Prefecture. They were doctors and board members of Ansan Health and Welfare Social Cooperative, Siheung Hope Health Welfare Social Cooperative and those who were preparing to establish a health welfare social cooperative in Seoul in September 2015. In South Korea, the mayor of Seoul is supportive of cooperatives, and an increasing number of cooperatives are being established throughout the city, including health welfare social cooperatives. Several health welfare social cooperatives have merged to build a hospital. This study tour was organized with 3 goals: to learn history and experience of merger at Medical CO-OP Saitama; to have a study tour to a hospital, a clinic and a care facility; and to learn members’ activities. Japanese and Korean family doctors exchanging experiencesFirst, the delegates had a lecture on the history of Medical CO-OP Saitama and learned that 6 medical cooperatives merged to build this one big medical cooperative. During a study tour at a hospital, they visited places such as operating rooms, patients’ rooms, and a kitchen. At a clinic, Japanese and Korean family doctors exchanged their experiences. They also joined a weekly exercise program at a park, organized by members, to experience a member-led health promotion activity. When asked about the most memorable experience, one of the delegates said, “During the study tour, I was impressed to learn that all members and staff have the philosophy to protect lives. I would like to keep that in mind when starting a new health welfare social cooperative. Lastly, there was a message regarding the upcoming 2015 APHCO General Assembly in South Korea: “We are looking forward to meeting people from health cooperatives in Asia.”

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