Under the auspices of the Supreme Council of Universities in Egypt, two Egyptian students participated in the 11th BioCamp in Basel, Switzerland, sponsored by Novartis pharmaceuticals.
Ahmed Soliman, winning student from the Faculty of Pharmacy, Helwan University, and Noha El-Salakawy, were hailed as "the two bright faces from Egypt" representing the country among 60 top-notch students from leading universities in 25 countries.
"The two young figures were selected from 100 students who applied nationwide. The selection was through an assessment programme under the supervision of the Supreme Council of Universities," says Dr Hossam Abdel-Ghaffar, Secretary of the Supreme Committee for the Development of University hospitals.
The BioCamp is an annual event since 2003. It probes into the role and techniques of biotechnology, presenting students and participants with tools for exploring challenges and solutions in this field.
Although most of the ailments worldwide seek to find solutions through biotechnology, and although it was the field that brought to the surface the likes of Insulin, Interferon, and many vaccines, it represents only 20 percent of healthcare spending in Egypt. A bitter reality addressed in a recent conference in Cairo.
"Biotechnology will form the future of healthcare," said Dr Tamer Essam, Assistant Professor of Microbiology and Immunology, Cairo University. "We hope this sector will reach 40 percent of total healthcare in Egypt by 2020."
The theme of the camp this year was "the race against time," as it addressed the issue of the increase in the average age of the population worldwide.
According to the World Health Organization, the number of those above the age of 60 has doubled since 1980, and the number is expected to rise reaching a whopping 2 billion by 2050.
This poses many challenges on the healthcare system, a problem in which the biotechnology should take a huge part in solving.