Dr José Carlos Guisado was posthumously honoured with the ‘Rochdale Pioneers Award’, the highest honour in the co-operative movement that the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) bestows with the purpose of recognising an individual or an organisation that has made an outstanding contribution to the global co-operative movement.
ICA President Monique Leroux presented the award to his wife Rosa Garavito and sons Álvaro and José Carlos. During the ceremony, Leroux reminded that Dr Guisado «belonged to that category of human beings who are an inspiration to all the work that we do.»
President of IHCO since 2001 to 2016, Dr Guisado was, thanks to his ceaseless dedication and staunch support of the cooperative model, the engineer of the consolidation and expansion of the organisation. Before 2001 he had already been serving as Vice-President and President of the European region. At the assembly held by the organisation on 13 October 2001 in Seoul, Japan’s Shoji Kato, who had been the President since it was first founded, handed over the baton to Dr Guisado.
Over the course of all his years as President, Dr Guisado dedicated his full efforts to extending and promoting the co-operative health model. He worked tirelessly to this end, travelling to countless countries and covering thousands of kilometres to take part at conferences and meetings, at all times with the aim of conveying the social benefits of health cooperatives, and collaborating in their establishment wherever he felt that the model could improve the health and well-being of the population.
Among his successes is the growth and consolidation of the IHCO as one of the most dynamic sectoral organisations within the co-operative movement. During his four terms as President, various co-operatives dedicated to the health sector in such countries as Argentina, Colombia, Canada, Poland, Brazil, Italy and Australia joined the IHCO.
A staunch proponent of inter-cooperation, he emphasised the role of health co-operatives within the context of the International Co-operative Alliance, working to find common ground with other sectors, and establishing partnership agreements such as the one that the IHCO has with CICOPA since 2013.
He brought the voice of health cooperatives to such various fora as the World Health Organization, the International Labour Organization and the European Parliament, along with public authorities and national governments. In 2015, he was involved in the promotion of the cooperative health sector in Colombia and had been in contact with the Ministry of Health in the country. His initiative likewise gave rise to the staging of a Conference in Washington DC, focused on the promotion of health cooperatives, at the time when President Barack Obama was launching the health reform known as Obamacare.
During the award ceremony, IHCO President Carlos Zarco stated that «I was lucky enough to have met Dr Guisado 20 years ago when he chose me to help him manage a hospital as his deputy. Since then, he became my boss and the best teacher I ever had and later honoured me with his loyal friendship.»«If José Carlos could see us today, he would be smiling upon us, extremely pleased and grateful, and he would think that this is a beautiful final touch to a lifetime dedicated to the co-operative movement», concluded Zarco.