Health for profit in Egypt

In Egypt the World Bank argues that the gains in mortality rates and life expectancy levels achieved since the beginning of the last century will not continue if the private sector is not involved, due to the government's failure to devote more resources to the health sector and a lower possibility of improving unhealthy daily habits of poor people.

The Social Watch report notes that while the government has announced the creation of PPPs in the Smouha Maternity University Hospital and Blood Bank and Al Mowasat Hospital, the PPP central unit has not made public the details of the projects, nor the nature of the investors’ responsibilities. Nor has it announced the main investors in the projects or the improvements that they are expected to achieve. All that is known by civil society is that the PPPs will be implemented and partially managed by Bareeq Capital, DETAC Construction & Trading, Siemens Healthineers and G4S Company.

These projects are supervised by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) as financial advisor, Mott Macdonald as technical advisor, and Trowers & Hamlins as legal advisor. The three-year contract was signed in 2012, but the projects have not yet been completed. One reason could be the fact that the bank loan offered to the corporate alliance has been reduced to half of the previously agreed budget.

The Egyptian report explains that previous case studies have shown that the failure of the partnership is due in most cases to financial problems, related either to the ability of the service recipients to pay back the fees or to the government's inability to cover the costs of the project. With the private sector as provider, the role of the government will be transformed to one of protection of service recipients (especially the poor), to ensure equality and to offer an accountability mechanism that provides citizens with the right to complain and report cases whenever there is any medical neglect.

In the Egyptian case, the declaration of officials on privatizations and investment show that the proposed system is based on lack of insurance, poor health coverage and low wages for doctors, an approach that does not take into account notions of justice or social protection. Health experts around the world warn that privatization of the health sector will create disparities in the delivery of health care and will ultimately harm the poor.

Source: Egypt national report, Social Watch Report 2017.