The Espriu Foundation takes part in an ILO working day to bring the health cooperative model to the continent of Africa.


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The Espriu Foundation takes part in an ILO working day to bring the health cooperative model to the continent of Africa.

The Espriu Foundation, the fourth largest network of health cooperatives in the world, has taken part in a working day held at the International Labour Organisation’s head office in Geneva with the aim of sharing experiences on bringing cooperative healthcare to different countries in the continent of Africa.

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Representantes en la reunión de trabajo en la OIT

The meeting was also attended by the International Health Cooperatives Organization (IHCO), the International Labour Organization (ILO) Cooperatives Unit, the health section of the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation (SDC), the Novartis Social Business Department, and consultants LPS.

At the meeting they dealt with the role of cooperatives working abroad in different sectors and the working methodology they adopt to be able to apply it in the continent of Africa. In this sense, the different organisations affirmed that “various countries have cooperatives that work in different sectors and, once they have established their main activity, they take advantage of their business structure to provide healthcare services to their partners or clients, offering them health insurance and carrying out prevention campaigns”.

In that regard, Carlos Zarco, managing director of the Espriu Foundation, added that “this variety shows the flexibility of health cooperatives in adapting to different geographic, political and socio-economic contexts, and their versatility in developing healthcare projects in medium- and low-income countries”.

Two examples identified in Africa were presented at the meeting. One was an insurance cooperative in Kenya, where a health promotion project could be developed, and the other a cocoa producers cooperative in Cameroon interested in offering healthcare.

SDC, the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation, which works in medium- and low-income countries, also includes strengthening health systems among its priorities, as well as fighting against contagious and non-contagious diseases, and improving children’s, neonatal, maternal, reproductive and sexual health. 

In fact, Alexander Schulze, codirector of the SDC’s global health programme, acknowledged there are plans to “create an international platform for developing projects aimed at providing universal healthcare cover under the Sustainable Development Goals” and that it is believed that the cooperative model “is the most suitable in many cases for implementing these initiatives”. 

Likewise, Carlos Zarco, who currently chairs the International Health Cooperatives Organization (IHCO), which was set up 22 years ago by the Espriu Foundation with the cooperatives of Brazil and Japan, declared that from the IHCO “we could provide this platform with the necessary knowledge on cooperative healthcare and act as a coordinating body with all the IHCO’s member companies”.  



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