Health and Social Justice – Egypt – Al-Ahram Weekly

This year saw the deployment of Egypt’s ambitious Universal Health Insurance (UHI) system in Ismailia, Luxor and northern Sinai, reports Reem Leila. The three governorates followed Port Said, where a UHI pilot project was implemented in 2019. The first phase of UHI implementation is also expected to include the governorates of South Sinai, Aswan and Suez and , according to Finance Minister Mohamed Maait, who chairs the UHI Authority, should be completed by the end of the current fiscal year.

The UHI is the flagship project of the New Republic, the foundations of which were laid by President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi, Maait said in October. Priority in the implementation of the system is given to the poorest governorates in Egypt. The deployment of the system throughout Egypt will take 10 years, with Cairo included in the sixth and final phase, and once completed, the UHI will guarantee all citizens, regardless of income or location, access to quality health care.

Egypt’s 2014 constitution placed health services at the heart of the development agenda, imposing a minimum budget allocation of three percent of GDP. Although it was originally envisioned that a nationwide deployment would take 15 years, the system, Maait says, is now on track to become fully operational within a decade.

The overall cost of the first phase of the deployment, according to Khaled Abdel-Ghaffar, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research and Acting Minister of Health, is LE 51.2 billion, which covers the improvement of health, medical and non-medical infrastructure. equipment and three months of operating and administrative costs.

In addition to primary health care, the UHI will cover more than 3,000 medical services, including surgery, analysis, radiology, tumor treatment, organ transplants, prostheses, visual and audio aids, dental care, therapeutic foods and other supplements.

A 2015 World Bank document, “A Roadmap to Achieving Social Justice in Health Care in Egypt,” identified expansion of priority services and population coverage, as well as spending cuts. direct, as the key to the implementation of universal health coverage.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, patients in areas where the UHI has been deployed were able to access remote consultations, including information on how to prevent infections and advice on how best to prevent infection. isolate, as well as the elderly and those with chronic illnesses. can have free medication delivered to their doorstep.

The World Bank document said that expanding family health services to all Egyptian citizens by 2030, with a focus on disadvantaged populations, was critical to achieving universal health coverage, and stipulated that these services should cover maternal and child health, reproductive health, family planning. , prevention, screening and treatment of noncommunicable diseases, mental health and nutrition.

Extending compulsory social health insurance to all citizens by 2030, with an initial focus on disadvantaged populations, will ensure Egyptians receive financial protections in a fair manner, World Bank concludes , and “that no Egyptian will be pushed or kept in poverty by paying for health care”.

The UHI is overseen by three regulatory authorities overseen by the Ministry of Finance and the Central Audit Organization. The General Health Accreditation and Control Authority sets quality standards, accredits healthcare providers and regulates compliance; the General Health Care Authority oversees service delivery and the UHI Authority distributes the funds.

Employees contribute one percent of their salary to the system, with employers required to pay three percent. The government steps in to cover payments for anyone unable to pay premiums, including widows and people with special needs, both of whom are exempt from insurance premiums. The system will also collect 0.25% of corporate tax revenues, part of the duties collected on cigarettes and part of the income generated from toll tickets and driver’s license renewal fees.

Medical staff, nurses, administrators, quality and infection controllers, and second-line administrators are already receiving training prior to the planned national deployment of the UHI.

* A print version of this article appears in the December 23, 2021 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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