Egypt’s universal health insurance system to provide quality healthcare: Al-Ahram’s Pharmaceutical Conference

Rasha Sadek , Sunday 17 Oct 2021

On the second day of the Al-Ahram Pharmaceutical Conference (APHC), held in its second edition in Cairo on 16-17 October, the participants agreed that the universal health insurance system is the umbrella that will grant Egyptians access to quality healthcare and safe and effective medicines.

Al-Ahram Pharmaceutical Conference

The nine-session conference zooms in on the localization of the drug industry in Egypt and providing practical solutions to its problems.

The APHC is held under the patronage of Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly and the chairmanship of Mahmoud El-Metini, the president of Ain Shams University, and the honourary presidency of Ashraf Hatem, the chairman of the parliamentary Health Committee.

Throughout the APHC, the attendees stressed the need to enforce Law 214/2020, which President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi has approved to regulate medical research and trials. The executive regulations of the law are yet to be issued.

El-Metini said at the conference that the Middle East’s share in global spending on clinical research stands at one percent, or $500 million. These provide 400 job opportunities annually and are directed to treat 10,000 patients.

Scientific research plays a critical role in localising the pharmaceutical industry in Egypt, particularly the drugs that treat tumors, said Hisham El-Ghazaly, head of the research centre at Ain Shams University’s Faculty of Medicine.

He stressed the need for effective communication between clinical research centres, stating that Egypt is one of the leading countries in the number of published medical researches.

CEO of EVA pharmaceutical group Riad Armanious said that Egypt produces 94 percent of its local needs of medicines and that localising the industry requires the localisation of state-of-the-art technologies. The group’s medical research centre has allocated EGP 20 million to support medical research till the end of the month, Armanious added, noting that researchers need technical support to home in on their pre-clinical trial results.

Amir El-Telwani, executive director of the universal health insurance system at Egypt’s Healthcare Authority, said at the conference that state-supported digital transformation will enable the insurance system to compete on an international level.

Meanwhile, Amany Mostafa, head of the Egyptian Association for Women’s Rights, said that patients’ rights have become a crucial determinant of public policies, especially in Egypt.

She lauded President El-Sisi’s announcement that 2022 will be designated the Year of Civil Society, pointing out that civil society is slated to play an effective part in offering comprehensive healthcare services for Egyptians.

El-Sisi believes the universal health insurance system is one of the tools to reform the healthcare sector in Egypt. The six-phase healthcare scheme, which started experimentally in Port Said governorate in early 2018, was scheduled to cover Egypt by 2032, but, based on El-Sisi’sinstructions, the project will be now completed nationwide by 2027.

Egypt has been scaling up efforts to develop the healthcare infrastructure, including upgrading clinics and hospitals as well as constructing new health units nationwide.

The total cost of the new scheme is expected to hit EGP 210 billion ($13.38 billion) annually once the entire population, estimated in excess of 100 million citizens, registers in the new system.

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