one must think beyond the short-term.
Before anything else, the health of citizens must always come first. As the world begins to rebuild itself following the COVID-19 pandemic, we are using this opportunity to reimagine healthcare projects that can improve health and prosperity in our societies. Through the Global Partnerships Narrative: People & Projects & Purpose, we start by measuring our potential to address people’s needs by putting people at the core. By intervention, we implement projects aimed at improving the health of an individual on many levels, whether through the provision of essential services or promoting healthier lifestyles through public, private and public-private projects. Finally, through a purpose-driven blueprint, we map our projects according to the targets of the Sustainable Development Goals to ensure better and more effective results.
Our strategy starts by focusing on the individual. By putting people at the core, we focus on going beyond just providing healthcare services, but also to protect citizens and promote healthier lifestyles - a key building block of a healthy society. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, our response focused on three main pillars: protect, provide and progress. First, to protect the population from the spread of the virus; second, to provide easier access to credit to help households smooth consumption and provide liquidity for firms to survive this disruption, and to ensure progress through expediting structural reforms that go beyond COVID-19.
In 2020, the Ministry of International Cooperation secured $477 million in development financing for 7 agreements supporting the healthcare sector, with development partners that include the World Bank, Arab Monetary Fund, USAID, African Development Bank (AfDB), Japan and Canada.
On May 17th, 2020, the World Bank provided $50 million to Egypt as an emergency response under the World Bank Group’s “Fast Track COVID-19 Facility” a global effort to strengthen the response and shorten time to recovery in the pandemic. The project focused on the immediate and critical areas of support identified by the Government of Egypt’s National COVID-19 response plan.
(1) Procuring and distributing medical equipment and supplies necessary for the COVID-19 response; (2) Training healthcare workers; (3) Supporting operations of specifically designated quarantine, isolation and treatment centers; (4) Mobilizing rapid response teams in contact tracing of COVID-19 cases; (5) Developing contextualized messaging platforms and tools to improve public awareness of COVID prevention; (6) Monitoring and Evaluation of social distancing strategies including community mobilization.
The role of civil society has gained increased significance, and this is why supporting and engaging with civil society is a central pillar in our development cooperation projects. Together with the Egyptian Red Crescent (ERC), in partnership with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Ministry of Social Solidarity, and ride hailing company Uber, we supported the Egyptian Red Crescent’s (ERC) network of 30,000 Egyptian youth volunteers and health care professionals to conduct community outreach and building ERC’s capacity to respond to future crises. Mental wellbeing was also prioritized during the pandemic, as USAID helped assist ERC in providing psycho-social support services to health workers.
Achieving universal health coverage is integral to increasing access to quality essential health-care services for all citizens, which is being carried out through the most recent World Bank $400 million financing agreement approved in July 2020 to support Egypt’s Universal Health Insurance System (UHIS). The project encompasses mandatory coverage for citizens and unifies, for the first time, efforts with the private sector. It also aims to achieve value care services, including to the most vulnerable, by eliminating existing disparities and offering them temporary financial protection. Expanding health care services is a national priority for the Government of Egypt. The UHIS is expected to complement and contribute to Egypt’s focus on improving human capital.
Adopting a gender-oriented approach to health is extremely important to ensure that our interventions are comprehensive. In ‘Addressing Gaps in Reproductive Health and Rights in Egypt’, Canada provided CA$ 5M through a grant to raise awareness on family planning and increase access to and quality of family planning services in Egypt. USAID also directed USD 21M to build the capacities of Ministry of Health and Population staff (MoHP) in providing quality voluntary family planning services and information.
The connection between nutritious food and health status is fundamental. The Ministry of International Cooperation together with the African Development Bank in May, 2020 approved a $500,000 emergency assistance grant “Supporting in Contribution to Providing Necessary Food Supplies to Vulnerable Groups” to Egypt to provide food relief; restoring the livelihoods of vulnerable populations severely affected by COVID 19.
As an early adopter of the World Bank’s Human Capital Project, the Government of Egypt has committed to the ‘whole of government’ approach to build, protect, and utilize human capital. 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.
The previous projects help to achieve the following targets of the SDGs:
Ensuring good health and wellbeing through promoting access to quality essential health-care services and safe and affordable essential medicines.
Integrating reproductive health through the provision of universal access to sexual and reproductive health-care services and family planning.
Promoting mental health and well-being.
Increase health financing and the training of the health workforce to build their capacities.
Promote policies that support decent job creation.
Empower women to have equal rights to economic resources.
Enhance the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development, complemented by multi-stakeholder partnerships that mobilize and share knowledge, expertise, technology and financial resources, to support the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals in all countries, in particular developing countries.