Jul 03, 2023
Right to health in Egypt: Health inequity during COVID-19 in Egypt - Ahmed Azab
Ahmed Azab
Pharmacist and Health Researcher

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Ahmed Azab

This research is a part of the Arab Watch Report 2023 on the right to Health.


Right to health in Egypt: Health inequity during COVID-19 in Egypt - Ahmed Azab
Please click here to download the full report.


Introduction: Inequity in access to health services in Egypt before COVID-19

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. The first case of COVID-19 was diagnosed in Egypt on February 14, 2020. The pandemic coincided with the first stages in implementing the new comprehensive health insurance law, Law No. (2) of 2018, launched in Port Said Governorate in late 2019. It was a time of great economic and social difficulties for all citizens. The government had just implemented the so-called economic reforms agreed upon with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in November 2016, withdrawing fuel and electricity subsidies and raising transportation prices. Waves of inflation followed and impacted many citizens’ livelihoods. In fact, the pandemic began to spread a few months after the IMF’s economic reform program ended. The combined impact revealed the structural deficiencies in Egypt’s current social and health protection system, discussed later in this report (المبادرة المصرية للحقوق الشخصية 2021).


When COVID-19 reached Egypt, the health sector suffered from insufficient government spending, highlighting an urgent need to restructure the health system. Medical staff worked in abysmal conditions, receiving meager wages. In the last few decades, many left the country looking for better working conditions and opportunities, causing a severe shortage of doctors and nurses.


This report begins with a historical overview of the Egyptian health system and the various incomplete attempts to establish a health insurance system. Then, it analyzes Egypt’s health situation before Covid-19 and the government policies to address the pandemic. The report also emphasizes that accessing healthcare was always mired with problems, particularly inequality. The pandemic has only deepened them and brought them to the surface. Finally, the report aims to extract practical lessons from the response to the pandemic, which could help implement the new health insurance law and health reform in general.


Ahmed Azab
Please click here to download the full report.

This research is a part of the Arab Watch Report 2023 on the right to Health.





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