The Rochdale Pioneers Award – the highest honour in the co-operative movement – has this year been posthumously awarded to Dr José Carlos Guisado.
Dr Guisado, who was president of the International Health Co-operative Organisation (IHCO) for 15 years, died on 14 October last year, while attending the International Summit of Co-operatives in Québec City. He was 61.
IHCO is a sectoral organisation of the International Co-operative Alliance that represents and provides a forum for discussion about health co-operatives. It allows people to share information about the sector and promote its development of health co-operatives.
Dr Guisado took his medical training at the university hospital in Seville and at University College Hospital in London.
He was involved in the health co-operative movement for more than 34 years; he was appointed general secretary of the European branch of IHCO in 1998 and chair of IHCO in 2001.
He was also a director of the Spanish Business Confederation of Social Economy (CEPES) and chief executive of Fundacion Espriu of Spain, which provides health services to over two million people and employs 32,500 health professionals.
He joined the board of the Alliance in 2013, after being nominated by the Sectoral Organisation Liaison Group.
The award aims to recognise, in the spirit of the Rochdale Pioneers, an individual or an organisation that have made an outstanding contribution to the global co-operative movement.
It was presented by Alliance President, Monique Leroux, who said: “He belonged to that category of human beings who leave a reflection and an inspiration in the work that we do in the movement.”
Receiving the award on behalf of Dr Guisado were his wife and two sons. His wife, Rosa Garavito, said: “He would be most proud about this because this was his life.”
Chair of the International Health Co-operative Organisation (IHCO), Dr Carlos Zarco from Fundación Espriu was a lifelong friend of Dr Guisado.
“I was lucky he chose me to manage his hospital and he became the best teacher I ever had and gave me his friendship till the end of his life. I think that if he could see this award he would be smiling happily thinking that it’s a nice end to an entire co-operative life,” he said.
Photo (c) ANGKASA