To combat the challenges Egypt is facing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ministry of International Cooperation has been keen on strengthening international collaboration to support the country’s national efforts and fight the pandemic, both in short term for crisis response and in long-term to ensure an inclusive and sustainable recovery.
The ministry succeeded in establishing strong partnerships with several development partners and multilateral institutions to provide grants and financing amounting to around $500 million. This was dedicated towards the provision of protective equipment, supplies for medical teams and isolation hospitals, strengthening the capacity of the Egyptian Red Crescent, training medical personnel as well as improving public awareness of the crisis. Egypt’s Minister of International Cooperation, Dr Rania Al Mashat, presented a forward-looking strategy, the New Global Partnership Narrative, to prioritize strong cooperation for the achievement of UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It is a new vision that will focus on three pillars: ‘People at the Core’, ‘Projects in Action’ and ‘Purpose as the Driver’ to push for a human-centered economy. People at the core: Prioritizing Egyptian people’s health To support Egypt’s universal health insurance system, the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved a fund of US$400 million to be implemented in six governorates to strengthen UHIS-related governance and institutions and provide temporary financial protection against high out of pocket health expenditures for vulnerable populations. Al Mashat also signed an agreement with the World Bank Group worth $50 million as part of the Emergency Response Project to combat the Covid-19 Pandemic for the Ministry of Health and Population, as well as to support the immediate and vital areas of support identified by the national plan to confront the emerging virus, train medical personnel and support isolation hospitals and treatment centers for those infected with virus. The Ministry also succeeded in reallocating $7.9 million to combat the COVID-19 within the framework of a major agreement signed with the World Bank worth 530 million euros to develop the health sector in Egypt. Similarly, Al-Mashat amended an agreement with the French Development Agency for the primary health care project with an amount of 15 million euros, which is equivalent to 17 million dollars, to purchase medical and protective equipment. An urgent grant of US $500,000 was obtained from the African Development Bank's special aid fund to contribute to providing food supplies for the most vulnerable, especially temporary workers in light of the Covid-19 crisis. Based on its strong partnership with the United States of America, USAID returned the favor to Egypt for the medical aid it received at the beginning of the crisis; providing 250 ventilators to support the capacities of Egyptian hospitals during the pandemic through a grant of about 8 million US dollars divided into two tranches: the first tranche includes 100 ventilators and the second includes 150 ventilators. To counter the spread of the COVID-19 through supporting civil society, such as the Egyptian Red Crescent, which includes 30,000 volunteers and health care professionals, the ministry succeeded in receiving a grant of 51 million pounds, which is equivalent of $3.2 million from the United States Agency for International Development. Through the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the ministry received grants worth $7.74 million as well as a grant agreement with the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development worth $3.2 million to support the health sector’s efforts In Egypt during the crisis. In addition, an amount of 500 thousand US dollars has been made available from Canada through the United Nations Development Program, which works to purchase, deliver and install equipment to diagnose Covid-19 virus, in order to support and enhance the capacity of the Ministry of Health to treat the most serious cases of the virus. Currently, the ministry is working to finalize the procedures for obtaining a grant from the Japanese government, amounting $9.3 million to supply medical equipment and supplies for the benefit of hospitals in a number of Egyptian governorates, in addition to providing technical support and necessary training for medical personnel. Egypt also obtained grants from South Korea at a value of $400,000 to support the Ministry of Health's efforts to combat the pandemic through providing urgent needs for public hospitals, and recently approved a $500,000 grant for the same purpose. In light of the distinguished cooperation relations with China and Egypt's commitment to support China at the beginning of the pandemic, the Chinese government sent 4 shipments of preventive and medical supplies in solidarity with Egypt. India also sent two shipments of medical supplies and medicines as gifts to the Egyptian government in support of the health sector, in addition to training to exchange experiences with medical personnel through electronic platforms. The Ministry of International Cooperation also launched the "Kamama" initiative, which was a successful model for cooperation among different stakeholders in society such as international institutions represented by the United Nations Development Program and civil society organizations through the "Al-Nida" Foundation, the Alternative Funding Laboratory (AltFinLab) and the "Naya Foundation”. It aimed to both empower and protect women in Upper Egypt through providing them with job opportunities in the production of masks. Co-operation for inclusive and sustainable recovery Al Mashat stressed that the COVID-19 should not derail each countries’ efforts from achieving sustainable development goals that are implemented until 2030, which is within the framework of the ministry to coordinate all efforts of development partners and support Egypt's plan towards achieving the 17 sustainable development goals. Development interventions focused on achieving various targets, particularly Goal 7 for good health and wellbeing, Goal 17 for partnerships, which focuses on knowledge sharing and cooperation for access to science, technology and innovation, and Goal 5 for gender equality through empowering women to have equal rights to job opportunities.