PRESS: The panel was lead by Mohamed Maait, Minister of Finance in London, with healthcare providers, hospital management leaders and sponsor of the BEBA mission Ayman Essam, external affairs and legal director in Vodafone.
CAIRO – 28 November 2019: The British Egyptian Business Association (BEBA) launched an investment panel, pertaining to the healthcare sector in Egypt, to explore the challenges and opportunities of growth surrounding the Universal Healthcare System the government has successfully piloted.
The panel was lead by Mohamed Maait, Minister of Finance in London, with healthcare providers, hospital management leaders and sponsor of the BEBA mission Ayman Essam, external affairs and legal director in Vodafone.
Maait began his speech in an inspirational discussion surrounding the historic status of Egypt starting healthcare since 1964, one of the oldest countries in the world to launch health insurance.
Reverting back to the current status, he explained that the current system is unsatisfactory to the state, to the Egyptian people, and the healthcare providers. He emphasized the importance of investing in health, education, culture, civil reform, to be able to sustain economic reform and growth.
“The new Universal coverage should provide real coverage for the whole family, sorting out the separation of financing and supervision of the system, and embrace public and private partnerships,” he stated.
Hossam Badrawi, Chairman is Medicare, complemented the minister’s discussion adding, “Launching the system in Port Said does not mean the success of the system in Port Said”, which raises the significance of accuracy and observance of the pilot project to ensure success and sustainability.
“Money will follow the patient”, a sentence repeated throughout the panel discussion endorsed by the Minister as an empowering slogan of the new system.
Out of pocket expenses are estimated at 60%, Egyptians are spending over 160 billion Egyptian pounds yearly for health costs. 60% of these expenses are out of pocket (90 million Egyptian Pounds). Egypt is currently ranking high on the urgency of need in healthcare: 2.5 million children need medical services every year, Egypt also ranks 2nd in the number of people with diabetes.
The Minister stressed the issue of healthcare is the highest contributor to poverty levels in Egypt. “As stated in the Egyptian constitution, health is a human right, and it is Egyptian’s right to have good health services in Egypt”.
As for Vodafone’s External Affairs Head Ayman Essam, he expressed the importance of public-private partnerships, encouraging other companies to invest in healthcare and technology to support the new system.
He further clarified the essential components of success stating, “the government is still fine-tuning the technical tools, over time, to ensure al the challenges are met. It delivers a strong message to investors around the world, that the Egyptian government is serious, fast and strong in the digitization strategy, we see this in the healthcare industry and education sectors”.
Speaking as a healthcare entrepreneur, and a professor of healthcare economics observing the data of healthcare in Egypt at high demand, Prof. Magdy Ishak, Chairman of Magdi Yacoub Foundation, led the discussion on creating a mixed economy in the healthcare industry.
He clarified that Universal Healthcare is extremely expensive, and provided examples like the UK, Germany, and France that spend 1 trillion dollars on healthcare. These countries came to the recognition that spending on healthcare with solely tax dollars cannot and will not be able to fund a universal system. He stated, “It is important to set up clear guidelines to create a mixed economy of public and private within the universal healthcare provision”.
Attendees of the panel, including prominent lawyer and politician Ziad Bahaa El-Din, encouraged all stakeholders to take note of the pilot projects implemented, understand the challenges and the difficulty of governance through legislation, and asking citizens to be patient about the process of transformation for the hope of a better future with universal healthcare.