With their distinct approach to care co-operatives can play a key role in tackling Diabetes, a disease affecting 9% of adults in the world.
Celebrated on 7 April, this year’s World Health Day was themed Beat Diabetes. The day aimed to raise awareness, strengthen care and enhance surveillance of the disease. Co-operatives are already making a difference in all three areas.
Co-op pharmacies can play an important role in providing these services to members. But their impact can go beyond membership. For example, in the UK Lincolnshire Co-operative runs 49 pharmacies. Its travelling health pod offer members free health checks all year round, including a blood test for diabetes.
As well as acting as actors in terms of prevention, co-ops can assist people with diabetes gain access to the health services they need. Dr Teresa Lajo leads the endocrinology department at the University Hospital of Moncloa in Madrid, which belongs to ASISA, a member of the Espriu Foundation.
At the Moncloa hospital doctors have a dual approach to the treatment and prevention of diabetes. They focus on training professionals and informing patients. “In my hospital and within ASISA we have a particular interest in diabetes. We explain to patients how to maintain a good nutrition and we cover all aspects. We have a limited waiting list and patients can gain immediate access to a specialist,” said Dr Lajo.
Another health co-operative that works to tackle diabetes is Unimed, the world’s largest system of medical co-operatives. Unimed helps its members find guidance on risk factors, types of diabetes, glucose control and other important issues. Unimed medical co-ops run a diabetic clinic, a care group for diabetics and a diabetes monitoring programme.
In Canada health co-ops are looking at ways in which they can empower individuals. “The shift we are trying to lead is from the medical treatment of symptoms towards helping people and communities to achieve and maintain their own wellness, before the symptoms emerge,” said Vanessa Hammond, chair of Health Care Co-operatives Federation of Canada.
Photo: Dr Teresa Lajo