Why a Cooperative in Health Sector?
The ‘Health in India 2016’ report which was based on the 71st round of the National Sample (January-June, 2014) reveals that more than 70% spells of ailment were treated in the private sector. The majority rely on savings and many on borrowings and buying medicines for non-hospitalised treatment account for the majority of the cost. The situation has changed little since.
Also, collusive behaviour in healthcare well documented. Evidence from a study conducted in Assam (COHED Project, www.cuts-ccier.org) suggests the frequency of ‘referrals’ for diagnostic tests was very high. A particular diagnostic laboratory is suggested by doctors. In many instances, these tests might not have been necessary. There is a ‘usual practice’ of paying commissions/cuts to the referring doctors by these diagnostic clinics and pathological labs.
Sadly, government sector lacks capacity and failed to live up to the expectation.
The cooperatives worldwide established themselves in various segments of the economy e.g., credit and banking, dairy, marketing, housing, fisheries, fertilisers, handlooms, handicrafts, etc. as successful players. The cooperatives in the healthcare sector in the country are negligible so far. There is no reason why cooperatives can not play a critical role.
The Assam Healthcare Cooperative Society is the first of its kind established on the strength of citizens without government patronage. The cooperative is determined to address some of these problems cited above and be a strong and caring alternative by strategically intervening in the market on the strength of the collective power of its members and well-established principles of cooperative spirit.