Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, a German development agency, with support of the European Union (EU), and in partnership with the National Council for Human Rights and Shamseya for Innovative Health Solutions, organized a roundtable discussion on Tuesday, 15 December 2020 on the importance of providing equitable and effective health care coverage for all Egyptian citizens during the coronavirus pandemic.
The event was held on International Human Rights Day and on the sidelines of Global Universal Healthcare Coverage Day.
The event took place at Cairo Marriott Hotel, Zamalek, from 10:30am to3:30pm. On the roundtable panel was Mr. Mohamed Fayek, President of the National Council for Human Rights; Mr. Uwe Gehlen, Head of German Development Cooperation; Mr. Ibrahim Lafia, Head of Cooperation / EU Delegation in Egypt; GIZ representatives; as well as local and non-governmental organizations in Egypt’s health care sector.
The roundtable discussion is part of “Strengthening Reform Initiatives in the Public Administration,” project by GIZ, which is commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the European Union (EU). The goal of this project is to support state institutions to perform their roles more effectively, equitably and to better respond to the needs of all citizens, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic.
The roundtable discussion mainly focused on lessons learned from the coronavirus pandemic in Egypt, with the goal of promoting a more equitable health care system, particularly when dealing with health crisis in a manner consistent with human rights. It also highlighted citizens’ right to health as a basic element of the health care system in Egypt, and touched upon the new health insurance law as a measures for equal access to health care in the country.
The discussion was divided into two sessions. The first was titled, “The Right to Health within the Current Health Care Coverage Scheme: Lessons Learnt from COVID-19,” and the second was titled, “The New Social Health Insurance Scheme and COVID-19.”
The first session was moderated by Dina Iskandar, a consultant for GIZ project, “Strengthening Reform Initiatives in the Public Administration,” , and Dr. Ayman Al Saba, President of Shamseya for Innovative Health Solutions. The discussion focused on the right to health, and the role of the National Council for Human Rights in supporting the new comprehensive health insurance system in Egypt. The session also highlighted the importance of accessing quality health services and information for all Egyptian citizens in a non-discriminatory manner, particularly for disadvantaged groups.
During the second session, the panelists discussed how to implement Egypt’s comprehensive health insurance system during the coronavirus pandemic. Mr. Gehlen from GIZ, spoke about Germany’s experience in dealing with the recent health crisis and how all institutions should come together to perform their roles effectively to better to respond to the needs of all citizens. He also mentioned that discussions about closure measures in Germany are currently taking place to help protect citizens’ health and ease tensions on the country’s health care system.
The roundtable discussion also brought to light challenges in Egypt’s health care system. Egypt already has a limited number of hospital beds, and this situation is further exacerbated by the pandemic. These shortages make giving citizens equal access to health care services difficult, particularly for women, disadvantaged groups and the underprivileged, who are exposed to higher risk of infection due to their living and working conditions, and who often have difficulty paying for health services.
Meanwhile, people working with civil society also discussed the challenges they face when dealing with state hospitals and the limitations of the government’s public health insurance coverage. However, by sharing their experiences, they brought up ways to improve citizens’ access to health care services and information.
At the end of both sessions, the moderators issued a set of recommendations for Egypt’s health care system. The most important of which is for state institutions to work together effectively, adhere to transparency, improve quality of health care services, and ensure equitable access to these services. They also recommended implementing the new comprehensive health insurance law, increasing the role of the private sector in providing equitable health services to all citizens, and encouraging the government in enabling the private sector to play a key role in the country’s health care system.
Believing in the right to health for all citizens, this roundtable discussion is part of the campaign, ” Your Health for the Other,” implemented by GIZ, commissioned by European Union (EU), and in partnership with the National Council for Human Rights. The campaign includes a series of short and easy to understand videos to encourage Egyptian men and women from all sectors of society, to pursue their right to health and ensure their right to equal access to health care services.