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Tuesday, 3 March 2020

Egypt’s universal health coverage program suggests there’s plenty of untapped potential

Egypt’s universal health coverage suggests there’s plenty of untapped potential in the country’s healthcare and pharma sectors, Renaissance Capital said in a report yesterday (pdf). As it currently stands, Egypt’s healthcare spending per capita falls far below the majority of its emerging market peers, coming in at USD 106 in 2017. “This is 10x lower than the average spent in the UAE and Kuwait of USD 1,350 and c. USD 1,500, respectively, and well below the OECD average of USD 4k,” the report says. Per capita pharma sales in Egypt (USD 54 in 2018) also fall below the MENA regional average of USD 160, RenCap says.

The program is up and running (albeit not without expected kinks) in Port Said, where the government decided to pilot the new system in July, according to the report.

How the private sector plays into all this: Private service providers, including pharmacies, diagnostics service providers, and pharma manufacturers, are all open to register with the government to provide their services under the program’s umbrella in exchange for an enrolment fee. Diagnostics service providers — including Alfa Lab, Astra Lab, and Integrated Diagnostics’ Alborg and Al Mokhtabar — have already enrolled their Port Said branches, while private pharmacies appear to still be planning to register soon.

What’s unclear so far is what will happen to private sector insurance players once the new system is fully rolled out, the investment bank says. The system is “expected to shake up Egypt’s entire private health insurance system,” but it remains to be seen whether the private sector will still have a role to play once the system covers all governorates by 2032.

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