In early July 2018, the World Bank committed significant funding to support the Egyptian Government’s plan to invest in healthcare to tackle the incidence of Hepatitis C in its population of working age, and to modernize its 600 primary healthcare facilities alongside 27 hospitals.
The loan of $530 million is for 35 years and provides significant opportunities for private healthcare services providers and life sciences businesses to provide medication and services for Egypt’s public health sector.
It will lead to new posts for physicians and key investments for a quality supply chain for medicines, blood supplies and healthcare services from prevention, diagnosis, treatment and follow-up of Hepatitis C and other non-communicable diseases. Family Planning services and management of risk factors for high burden diseases are included in the scope of the investments.
It also includes funding to establish Contingency Emergency & Response services, in the event Egypt faces a national health emergency, and project management services to deliver the services and the data to be used by an independent agency for the assessment of how the loan is used.
This initiative follows a recently enacted compulsory Comprehensive Health Insurance Law, to provide private healthcare coverage to be funded both by employers and employees, and taxes on various goods including cigarettes & high emission industries.
The World Bank loan is subject to usual General Conditions and to compliance with its Anti-Corruption Guidelines.
This funding, new law and priorities of the plan will transform potential health benefits for patients and Egypt’s population, despite concerns about the size of likely co-payments. Private hospitals and healthcare facilities providers are encouraged to participate in the new healthcare infrastructure, when they meet criteria set by Egyptian authorities.
Some EU Member States provide support to businesses willing to invest in Egypt, and Egyptian authorities are gradually introducing incentives to support international investment in their growing economy. Private sector lending is also available.
For the management of Hepatitis C, the World Bank plans to reduce cost of treatment lower than a successful 2014 project that led to treatment of 1 million patients, with a 95% rate of cure in defined populations. The World Bank announced funding would enable screening of 1 million units of blood a year, screen about 35 million people and treat an estimated 1.5 million patients. About 20 million adult Egyptians will be screened for other non-communicable diseases & risk factors.
The project may include support for R&D and to establishing a database of anonymized health records, at hospital or regional level.
It is anticipated this funding model will be replicated by WHO and the World Bank in other regions of Africa.