Medicine are arranged on a shelf inside in a pharmacy in Cairo, Egypt, November 17, 2016. Picture taken November 17, 2016. (Reuters)
Egypt's President Abdel-Fatah El-Sisi said on Sunday during a cabinet meeting that the supply of medicines must be increased to end the country’s ongoing shortage.
In a presidential statement reported by state news agency MENA, El-Sisi said that "the government should ensure the availability of various types of medicines at affordable prices as well as provide imported drugs that have no domestic alternatives."
Egypt has been facing difficulties in importing medicine and components used in domestic pharmaceutical manufacturing. Manufacturers have said the retail price of medicines needs to be raised so that they don’t incur losses.
Health minister Ahmed Radi presented the ministry's plan to overcome the medicine shortage.
"To resolve the issue, in the short-term the ministry will increase prices and overcome shortages, in the medium-term by developing state-owned pharmaceutical factories, and in the long-term by expanding the pharmaceutical industry in Egypt," the minister said.
El-Sisi urged the government to improve health care services, develop the local pharmaceutical industry and increase its competitiveness, and work to attract new investments.
The health minister said that EGP 8 million has been allocated to develop hospitals and medical facilities over the next two years.
On the health ministry’s current efforts to alleviate the shortage, Radi said that the ministry is working on re-opening hospitals built in 1997 which have not been functioning.
"Twenty-five hospitals including medical units and clinics in impoverished areas as well as 90 hospitals for dialysis and nurseries are now operating in Egypt," Radi added.
"There are 374 hospitals currently being renovated and equipped to function more efficiently."
Last week, Egypt's Prime Minister Sherif Ismail announced the government had “reached a solution” to the medicine crisis, without providing further details.
Ismail said the solution is being discussed with pharmaceutical companies and members of parliament, adding that the government prioritises ensuring the availability of medications at reasonable prices.
The Central Bank of Egypt floated the local currency in early November, which slashed its value by half against the dollar, resulting in price hikes, especially for imported goods.