In 2014, thirteen leading cooperatives, federations and organisations from the Philippines joined forces to create Cooperative Health Management Federation. In this interview, Roy S. Miclat, CEO of the Federation for the last three years, explains its structure and goals, as well as the nature of its relationship with the public health system in the country.
On 13 November, IHCO participated in the General Assembly of the Alliance for Health Promotion held in the Graduate Institute of Geneva. IHCO President Carlos Zarco represented health cooperatives at the meeting. He shared with the Alliance’s members what are the advantages of cooperatives in the health sector and why these enterprises contribute to improving the well-being of the population.
The Alliance for Health Promotion is made up of a network of NGOs and international civil society organisations from different sectors that share their commitment to improving people’s health. The Alliance is officially linked to the WHO (World Health Organization) and has consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC).
IHCO held its annual General Assembly in Buenos Aires (Argentina) on 20 October. Members approved the report of the President and discussed the action plan for 2019. The organisation aims to increase the visibility of health cooperatives and raise the public awareness of their contribution to the health systems and the Sustainable Development Goals. It also plans to foster business inter-cooperation, to facilitate mutually beneficial relations between the member organisations and to support them in their advocacy and lobbying actions at the national and local levels.
The map of inequality: with over 20 million Italians in financial difficulty going without treatment or getting into debt to receive it, health becomes a commodity only available for those who can pay. Cooperatives are a third way to support the Italian national health service.
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.»