On 7 July 2018, IHCO’s member organisations are going to join cooperators around the world to celebrate the International Day of Cooperatives. With the common message «Sustainable societies through cooperation», the cooperative movement puts forward the values behind the cooperative business model. Cooperatives have always set out to enable people to have access to goods and services sustainably, even before the concept of sustainability had emerged as a global concern.
As ICA President Ariel Guarco highlighted, «We represent 1.2 billion cooperative members, there is no other economic, social and political movement in the world that in less than 200 years has probably grown as much as we have. But growth is not the most important thing. We consume, produce and use the resources that the planet gives us but in solidarity with the environment and with our communities. That is why we are a key partner for the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.»
The need for healthcare is continuously growing. The social and demographic changes, the increased life expectancy, and the growth of chronic diseases put pressure on health systems. Health cooperatives have an influential role to play in the sustainability of health systems. They have the ability to respond to new needs that emerge in society and to attract resources that otherwise would not be dedicated to health and well-being. Health cooperatives’ flexibility at ownership and governance structure contributes to innovation in design and experimentation with new organisational structures, while making them particularly effective in withstanding and adapting to economic crises.
Moreover, health cooperative’s members, both users and professionals, develop a joint commitment and build a relationship of trust between them that helps to improve the quality of the healthcare service. As IHCO President Carlos Zarco stated, «cooperatives are a business model that competes in the marketplace like any other, but they do not need to pay out returns to shareholders and can reinvest all their profits in improving services and guaranteeing their sustainability.»