Health co-operatives in the Philippines


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Health co-operatives in the Philippines

Healthcare co-operatives are an organisational model, at both the business and social levels, which can be applied in different spheres and contexts. Major healthcare companies providing services to millions of users, including such key examples as Unimed in Brazil, Health Partners in the USA, or the institutions of the Espriu Foundation in Spain, demonstrate the solidity of the model. Small-scale projects, though, also benefit from the advantages of the co-operative movement.

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One particularly telling example of this is to be found in the Philippines, where the joint efforts of the National Co-operative Federation and the NGO PHANSUP have set up a co-operative to provide maternity and infant health services and healthcare training for underprivileged families.

Roberto Nebrida, one of the project managers, visited the Espriu Foundation’s headquarters in Barcelona on 12 March to meet up with Dr. José Carlos Guisado, the Foundation’s CEO and President of the IHCO. His aim was to learn at first hand how the health co-operatives which operate under the aegis of the Espriu Foundation function, and to examine their organisational aspects, with the aim of adapting them and so enhancing co-operative developments in his own country.

The project, known as EVAcoh in reference to the first mother recorded in the Bible, Eve, aims to improve access to and usage of healthcare by the most underprivileged sectors of the population in the Philippine region of Eastern Visayas.

According to Mr Nebrida, the region is the 5th worst part of the Philippines to become a mother, with almost 300 mothers dying for every 100,000 babies born, while it also has the second-highest number of child pregnancies and under-5 mortality rates.

Figures which demonstrate that the current Philippine health system, which depends on the government and on the private sector, is not sufficient. The EVAcoh project supports public-private partnership and promotes the so-called “third leg” of the system, comprising co-operatives. The vision of the project is to consolidate a network of social health enterprises, managed and governed by co-operatives.

The Philippines is a country with a co-operative tradition, in particular in the financial sector, with 8% of the population associated with one of more than 20,000 co-operatives which contribute 4.2% to the Philippines GDP, providing employment for more than 103,000 people.

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