Egypt to revolutionise its health care system from 2018

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Residents of the northern of governorate of Port Said will be the first to enjoy the fruits of the new medical insurance law approved recently by the president according to Ahmed El Sobky, assistant to the Egyptian Minister of health and population. “This new law will completely restructure the health care system in Egypt, the old system used to cover only 50% of Egyptians … the new law will restructure the ministry of health instead of the one entity service provider and financer it used to be to become three entities; a health care provision entity, a medical insurance entity, and a third entity will be an accreditation body to recruit, qualify and supervise health care providers,” Said El Sobky.

Ahmed was excited to say that the Egyptian health care budget is expected to triple to reach 140 billion pounds annually according to the studies, this budget will be financed through mandatory subscriptions, partial consultation and medicine fees collected from employees of public and private sectors.

The deficit in costs will be covered by government subsidies to provide medical coverage to about 24 million Egyptians who are themselves unable to pay. This ambitious system is expected to cover all Egyptians by 2032.  According to Al Ahram Online, many Egyptians have for decades suffered from a poor medical service and grim conditions at dilapidated state-run hospitals.

Dr. El Sobky said that with the new law and the creation of this accreditation body all service providers will be scrutinised periodically for quality and categorized into foundation, basic and fully accredited providers.

This raised concerns about the fate of government hospitals that will not meet the quality standards as Dr Mahmoud Fuad, head of the NGO The right to medicine, told al-Wafd newspaper on 28 October  that only 20% of the 660 government hospitals are committed to the required standards, meaning that many government hospitals will not be included in the new law

Egyptian medical insurance was not the only thing revolutionized in 2017, according to Dr. El Sobky another major change took place in the health field. The supreme council for universities decided to change medical education in Egypt by replacing one year of academic education with one year of clinical training in order to have two years of clinical training instead of one.

Not only this, but the ministry of health will start a licensing process for doctors that includes a post-graduation licensing exam to be enforced by the Entity of Required Training.

This will change the qualifying process of Egyptian doctors from an old obsolete system in practice since the 1950s.

Dr. El Sobky is lobbying to enable the new entity not only to license new doctors, but also to have the authority to renew licenses of specialists and consultants through a follow up examination of their professional and medical progress.

“2017 is the year for strategic development in the Egyptian health care service, we are developing the backbone, who are the doctors and we are developing the service providing standards.” El Sobky said proudly.

Before concluding the interview Dr. El Sobky said: “we need not to forget about the over million patients who we have managed to cure from Hepatitis C and ongoing.” The first medicine used in the Egyptian programme was Sovaldi, which was developed by Gilead Sciences in California. Egyptian health officials reached a deal with Gilead in 2014 to purchase the three-month course of medication for $900 — a massive discount compared to the $84,000 then charged in the US.

International drug companies have introduced several other hepatitis C treatments, but the Egyptian programme has come to rely on much cheaper generic versions produced locally, with a three-month course of medication costing as little as $80 according to the financial times.

Dr. Ahmed says Egypt is currently using a locally produced version of the American Harvoni drug to cure its patients. “It was our main challenge to manufacture this medicine with matching efficiency as the imported one.” Dr. El Sobky concluded.

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