The Office des Pharmacies Coopératives de Belgique, OPHACO, is the recognised professional association federating 616 cooperative pharmacies in Belgium, distributed into 15 cooperatives. OPHACO’s cooperative pharmacies represent the 20% of the non-hospital pharmaceutical market in Belgium and the 12% of country’s pharmacies.
As a representative professional organisation, OPHACO is present, at the institutional level, on the boards and technical committees dealing with public health, economy, employment and social affairs.
OPHACO’s mission consists in providing pharmaceutical care at the highest quality, efficiency and safety, as well allow patients’ access to medicines at the fairest cost.
The first cooperative pharmacies appeared in Belgium in the 1880s, called «Pharmacies Populaires de Bruxelles». Along the XX century, different models were developed, being the differences, basically, if their origins were the unions, the mutual aid societies or another kind of organisations. In 1946 OPHACO was set up with the aim of bringing together the various organisations of cooperative pharmacies in Belgium, a process that lasted until 1962.
Nowadays, OPHACO’s cooperative pharmacies generate an annual turnover of about 600 million euros and meet the needs for medicines, medical devices, specialised nutrition and other health products of 2.2 million people. Regarding employment, they directly or indirectly provide a job to 3,500 people, including 1,000 pharmacists.
Over the past years, growing imbalances between the supply and the demand for health services have pressured the national health systems. Increasing health expenditure, the ageing of the population, the long waiting times or the struggle to cope with long-term care due to chronic and degenerative diseases are some of the problems of the health systems.
Counteracting these difficulties, health cooperatives are found in several countries delivering a wide range of services, including insurance coverage, prevention and soft healthcare services, the distribution of pharmaceutical products and the management of healthcare hospitals and other facilities.
The Cooperative Health Report, published by IHCO and EURICSE, unveils what is the contribution of cooperatives to the global health and why cooperatives are well-equipped with competitive advantages for the health sector.
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IHCO advocated the contribution by cooperatives to world health and presented them as a tool for achieving the United Nations’ Agenda 2030 at the NGO’s Consultation session held on 23 January at the WHO headquarters in Geneva. Continue reading
Last week, IHCO President Carlos Zarco attended to the World Health Organisation’s Executive Board meeting, held in Geneva. His participation is part of the IHCO initiatives aimed at bringing the voice of the health cooperatives into the global health agenda as a reliable business model especially useful for the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals. Continue reading
Interview with Espriu Director-General Carlos Zarco, who was elected IHCO President on November 14
At the most recent assembly of the IHCO, you were elected as President. What priorities have you set for your term?
I think my main priority is to try to expand the health cooperatives belonging to the IHCO. There are at present 14 organisations, and I think that despite the economic difficulties faced by some health co-operatives, we should be aiming to have a presence on all five continents.
Meanwhile, in terms of daily operations, we are considering the types of initiative that would be of interest to our members, while aiming to offer added value through our organisation, assisting those activities that are common to all of us. Continue reading
The International Cooperative Alliance and the European Reseach Institute on Cooperatives and Social Economy recently published the sixth edition of the World Cooperative Monitor, a report on the world’s largest cooperative and mutual organisations, the Top 300, and a sectoral analysis, both based on 2015 financial data. Continue reading