The distinguishing role of cooperatives in the health sector
A new report by IHCO illustrates the many ways in which cooperatives make a difference in reaching the Sustainable Development Goal No. 3, Good Health and Well-being.
A clinic near Melbourne that provides services for the Aborigine community, a pharmacist from Salonika who is over 90 years of age or a Belgian computer technician who designs digital solutions for the management of healthcare installations are some of the experiences included in the Cooperatives in the health sector study.
Recently published by the International Healthcare Cooperatives Organisation, the research sets forth the role played by cooperative companies in the healthcare sector and the differentiating value they provide compared to other organisational or business structures. To respond to these questions, over 200 cooperatives with activities linked to the health system in over 40 countries were analysed.
The report indicates the suitability of cooperative companies in activities such as primary or specialised care, management of hospitals and care facilities, health insurance or the provision of medical and social services. There are also examples in healthcare training and educational areas. Another industrial sector where they stand out is the pharmaceutical industry, with consolidated initiatives in the production and distribution of medicines.
Cooperatives are group-owned companies that are governed democratically. They need to be efficient to meet the economic and social needs of the cooperative members, but they act on the market in accordance with a set of their own distinctive values.
These distinguishing characteristics make cooperatives into a highly suitable for providing people-orientated, high quality healthcare services.
In the study they analysed in depth 12 case studies that are representative of the different solutions that cooperatives provide for the current challenges being faced by health systems. Finally, they proposed a series of recommendations to ensure the full development of their potential and called for the development of public policies aimed at promoting them and a legislation that respects and recognises their particular nature.