Who we are
IHCO is an international organisation founded in 1996 that brings together health cooperatives. It is the health sectoral organisation of the International Cooperative Alliance.
It is made up of national apex organisations and cooperative businesses active in primary and specialised healthcare, management of hospitals, health insurance, socio-healthcare, health promotion, health literacy and pharmacy distribution.
What we do
IHCO activity is addressed to showcase cooperatives as an alternative to private and public healthcare, which combines economic goals with social values.
IHCO highlights the global scale of the cooperative business model in the health sector, raising awareness about its added value.
IHCO promotes a people-focused approach to meet the population’s health needs, encouraging high-quality healthcare services and ethical working conditions for professionals.
IHCO is the worldwide forum for discussing relevant policies about health cooperatives and their voice at international organisations such as WHO, ILO, B20, UN or ICA.
Members from countries worldwide share their model, know-how, experience, and inter-cooperate to improve citizens’ access to healthcare services and health professionals’ development.
The added value of cooperatives in the health sector
Achieving Universal Health Coverage is close related with the efficient implementation of healthcare. It means making good decisions on spending. But also, as healthcare is a labour-intensive industry, health professionals can make a big difference.
Improvements in healthcare provision can be reached if resources are pooled and health professionals enjoy better working conditions. Health cooperatives combine workers’ skills and financial resources to respond to market failures and provide services and products otherwise inaccessible.
Independent of the health system’s characteristics where they operate, cooperatives efficiently manage to adapt and reinvent themselves over time. They evolve with their membership, governing bodies and service delivery to fulfil unmet needs better.
Health cooperatives also help overcome coordination failures that arise from asymmetric information that typically characterises healthcare services.
Health cooperatives, rather than competing with public providers, tend to fill gaps covering unattended population.
Health cooperatives are close to the population and their needs. They prioritise addressing the demands of specific stakeholder groups, or the community at large, improving the accessibility of health services for population groups who would otherwise be excluded.
Health cooperatives have a long-term perspective, seeking social and economic sustainability because the only investor they must pay back is the society.
Board of directors
Dr Carlos Zarco, Fundación Espriu
Dr Ricardo López, Federación Argentina de Entidades Solidarias de Salud, FAESS
Dr Hotaka Hara, Health and Welfare Cooperatives Federation of Japan
Dr Gilberto Quinche, Coomeva
Dr Marcos Cunha, Unimed do Brasil
Our statutes can be found here.