Written By: Islam Yusri
The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors today approved US$400 million to support Egypt’s transformational Universal Health Insurance System (UHIS) as the country’s pathway toward achieving universal health coverage (UHC) and improving the health outcomes of its citizens.
The project will support the Government of Egypt (GOE) to put in place the building blocks of the Universal Health Insurance System; to roll the system out in Phase I Governorates; and to offer temporary financial protection to the most vulnerable across the country to protect them from high out-of-pocket health expenditures resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak.
“Expanding health care services is a national priority for the Government of Egypt. The Universal Health Insurance project with the World Bank encompasses mandatory coverage for citizens and unifies, for the first time, efforts with the private sector. The project aims at achieving value care services, including to the most vulnerable, by eliminating existing disparities,” said Minister of International Cooperation Dr. Rania Al-Mashat.
Egypt’s Universal Health Insurance Law (UHIL) guides the implementation of the Universal Health Insurance System and accelerates progress toward Universal Health Coverage in line with the health pillar of Egypt‘s 2030 Sustainable Development Vision. The law envisions mandatory coverage for all citizens in the country, including vulnerable groups who will be subsidized by the government.
“We are pleased to partner with the World Bank to support Egypt’s universal health insurance system, which will help Egyptians access affordable health care they need without suffering financial hardships. The Project will support Egypt to achieve long-term stability in health financing with less dependence on state budget and less exposure to economic fluctuations,” said Minister of Finance Dr. Mohamed Maait.
The project is also complementary to the World Bank-financed COVID-19 Emergency Response Project that aims to support the immediate operational challenges and critical areas of support identified as key gaps in Egypt’s national COVID-19 response.
“Our support will help Egypt increase its coverage of the Universal Health Insurance System (UHIS) in six governorates, strengthen UHIS-related governance and institutions, and also provide temporary financial protection against high out of pocket health expenditures for vulnerable populations across the country,” said Marina Wes, World Bank Country Director for Egypt, Yemen, and Djibouti.
The UHIS is expected to complement and contribute to Egypt’s focus on improving human capital. As an early adopter of the World Bank’s Human Capital Project, the GOE has committed to the ‘whole of government’ approach to build, protect, and utilize human capital. The UHIS will contribute to building human capital through investing in early years of life and providing better health care, antenatal care, and targeted childhood stimulation.
Over the years, the World Bank has strengthened its engagement in Egypt’s health sector, including the Transforming Egypt’s Healthcare System Project, which was launched in September 2018 to help improve health service delivery in Egypt. The Project supported the screening of 52 million citizens for Hepatitis C and Non-Communicable Diseases; provided ongoing treatment for 2.2 million patients, in addition to supporting the improvement of quality of care in 600 Primary Health Care facilities and 30 tertiary hospitals; trained and contracted 2,800 community health workers; boosted demand- and supply-side interventions for family planning programs; and provided advanced nucleic acid testing for public blood supply.