Egypt’s healthcare market is one of the largest in the Middle East and North Africa. In theory, Egypt offers a universal healthcare system. In practice, half of the population has limited access to health because of high patient contributions, non-availability of adequate medical services and lack of quality.
Snapshot of Egypt’s healthcare organization
The Egyptian healthcare organization is a complex structure of public and private providers, where (independently administered and financed) private insurers cover public care.
Healthcare in Egypt is mostly a private payer driven market, where 62% of the total expenses are spent by the private sector and only 38% are spent by the public sector. 88% of private expenditure on health stems from OOP payments in 2016.
There are 2 principal insurers, that operate under the Ministry of Health and Population’s supervision. In other words, non-governmental insurers, provide the majority of public care.
Quality of care in public hospitals is far lower than in private and foreign clinics. 80% of hospital admissions are in public hospitals, and 60% of the primary care visits are to private clinics and practitioners.
Challenges facing Egypt’s healthcare provision
Egypt’s healthcare faces several intrinsic systemic inefficiencies and problems, resulting in service delivery and quality issues across the sector.
Some of the challenges for the Egyptian healthcare system, in terms of organization and operations, are:
- Healthcare organization is fragmented and highly centralized, resulting in structural weaknesses. A plethora of public and non-governmental agents and organizations manage and contract a multitude of care providers and facilities, creating this complex fragmented network. It has been criticized that there is a lack of coordination and communication between these different authorities and organizing parties.
- High out-of-pocket spending for patients, making (qualitative) healthcare inaccessible or difficult to access for a large share of the population.
- Low public funding.
- Dispersed and unclear division of responsibilities.
- Limited access to secondary care for a large part of the population.
- Variable (low) quality of public hospital care and an underpaid clinical workforce.
- Lack of overall regulatory framework and of an efficient, informed management. Cumbersome bureaucratic tape and a want for a Health Technology Assessment body hinder streamlining quality-improvement systems.
- A highly centralized healthcare organization has resulted in a lack of coordination and wanting region-specific strategies and responsiveness to healthcare needs.
Hospitals themselves face some significant challenges, such as:
- Substantial healthcare risks posed by lacking proper hygiene practices and standards (e.g. doctors handling HIV patients without gloves, or single-use supplies being used multiple times).
- Long waiting lines having led to extreme situations; reportedly, a female patient gave birth outside of a hospital as she was refused admittance, and another example where a patient with a grave morbidity had to return every day for a succession of two weeks prior to receiving urgently needed care.
- Lack of trained nurses.
- Shortage of basic- though vital- supplies such as:
- When these are available, many times they are overpriced, and or bought outside of the hospital and therefore often unaffordable to the average low-income patient, as they fall outside of the insurance schemes’ reimbursement guidelines.
- Cotton and bandages
- These are sometimes purchased at the doctor’s personal expense.
Reforms are being introduced, focused on financing improvements and boosting care quality and accessibility. More reforms are necessary to improve the current organizational deficiencies, e.g. to clearly define the organizational authorities’ roles.
The private sector is expected to play a more significant role in the future, fostered by government programs and increased investor confidence in the Egyptian market.
For further quantitative and qualitative information on the Egyptian healthcare system and the macroeconomic climate, please look into our Business intelligence platform or order the Egypt Healthcare Scan incl. Surgical Procedures Volumes (all specialisms) – product license containing volumes of 984 surgical procedures in 13 specialisms.
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About Laura Weynants
Performs primary and secondary market research to create country reports at TforG. Interviews KOLs and medical sector professionals to build on TforG’s healthcare market expertise and competence networks. Complementing five years of sustainability policy and CSR communication, she now focuses on grasping key medical market trends, structures and opportunities in medical sectors worldwide. Coming from an international background of living in Germany, Spain, USA, UK and Belgium, she has gained a keen insight in international organizations and language skills to perform first hand investigations. She graduated from Sussex University Brighton, UK with a BA English Literature and Sociology and achieved a Master Degree in Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility in EOI Business School in Madrid, Spain.