Nairobi hosted the Expert Group Meeting on «Harnessing the power of cooperatives to achieve sustainable development for all: successes, challenges, the road ahead», organised by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs. IHCO participated in the meeting and shared its view on the role that cooperatives play to achieve universal health coverage.
President Carlos Zarco presented a paper entitled «Healthcare cooperatives: a reliable enterprise model for health and wellbeing». He reflected on the advantages that cooperative enterprises have in the health sector and explained that improvements in healthcare provision could be reached if resources are pooled and health professionals enjoy better working conditions. «Cooperatives are good at combining workers’ skills and financial resources to respond to market failures in providing services that otherwise would be inaccessible,» he said.
Another exciting experience was presented in Nairobi. Sarah Murungi, a health cooperative and organisational development specialist, explained how HealthPartners, a US health cooperative, provides tools, capacity building and network development support to healthcare providers in Uganda, which are affiliated to agricultural cooperatives, savings and credit cooperatives, schools, burial societies and employer groups. Care providers are trained to manage insurance partnerships directly, electing a board of directors and registering with the Ministry.
Since 1997, HealthPartners has leveraged its expertise to develop a health cooperative model based on existing systems and financed by local stakeholders that allows community members in resource poor areas to overcome their health challenges.
The meeting brought together a group of experts on cooperatives, with the view to review and reflect on experiences and lessons gained since the International Year of Cooperative (2012), analyse to what extent previous plans of action have achieved their desired impacts and make policy recommendations about the role of cooperatives in the UN 2030 Agenda. Discussions in Nairobi provided thoughtful analysis on cooperatives that shall inform the preparation of the Secretary-General’s report on the issue concerning cooperatives in social development in 2019.