Japan to aid health insurance

Reem Leila , Tuesday 4 Apr 2023

Japan is offering Egypt assistance to support its Universal Health Insurance System, reports Reem Leila

Japan to aid health insurance
JICA will support the Universal Health Insurance System with $336 million


Egypt signed an agreement last week with the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) under which it will receive $336 million to support the Universal Health Insurance System (UHIS). The money is being granted in the form of an Official Development Assistance (ODA) agreement which comprises providing concessional grants and soft loans, promoting the economic development and welfare of developing countries as the main objective.

The agreement, according to Finance Minister Mohamed Maait, would help in expanding the UHIS to cover all Egyptian governorates. The system has so far been applied in the governorates of Port Said, Ismailia, Luxor, Aswan, and North Sinai.

“The amount will help in the achievement of Egypt’s Sustainable Development Goals [SDGs],” said Maait, adding that the agreement will help in completing the UHIS’ objectives by 2030 as was planned.

Hossam Abdel-Ghaffar, the spokesman of the Ministry of Health and Population noted that implementing the UHIS requires huge amounts of money.

“It is essential to improve health services in existing hospitals, as well as build 135 new healthcare facilities and improve 5,314 health units,’’ Abdel-Ghaffar said.

Due to the amount of money required, Abdel-Ghaffar stated that JICA, the World Bank (WB), the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the French Development Agency (AFD) vowed to provide Egypt with $1 billion to finance the country’s UHIS. The General Health Insurance Authority would be responsible for the administration and financing of the system, while the Health Ministry would provide health and treatment services in and out of hospitals.

Under the new system, the government will provide its medical services to limited income brackets. “This new system will give citizens the chance to enjoy health care at the hospital of their choice, thus creating competition among the private, governmental and military hospitals which will all be included in the new system,” Abdel-Ghaffar said.

The UHIS covers over 3,000 health services including surgical interventions, medical analyses, radiology scans, tumour treatments, organ transplantations, and prosthetic devices. This is in addition to visual and audio aids, dental treatment, therapeutic food, and other supplements, according to the latest treatments and internationally approved medicines.

Abdel-Ghaffar pointed out that the system is being incrementally implemented in six phases which started in 2018 and will end in 2032. It initially began in Port Said and has been gradually rolling across the nation’s governorates. Priority has been given to governorates with the lowest income citizens.

* A version of this article appears in print in the 6 April, 2023 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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