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Declaration from the National Egyptian Committee on the Right to Health

On Thursday September 4th, 2008 the Egyptian Administrative Court has announced its verdict in the urgent appeal of the case no. 21665/61 by suspending the execution of the Prime Minister decree no. 637 for the year 2007 by founding the Egyptian Holding Company for Heath Care.

This decree was regarded by the Egyptian National Committee on the Right to Health as one of the three major axis of privatization. The decree transfers all the assets of the non-for profit health insurance organization (40 hospitals, more then 600 polyclinics, about 3000 institution clinics, more than 500 pharmacies, a bank deposit of more than half a billion Egyptian pounds) to a new commercial body, the Egyptian Holding Company for Health Care, to run it on a profit basis. In addition, the company has the legal right to dispense with these assets through selling them and putting its shares in the stock exchange. Five lawsuits were filed against this decree by members of the Egyptian National Committee as an act which contradicts the Egyptian Constitution and people's right to health. The case had an urgent appeal to suspend executing the decree till the court releases its final verdict about it. The urgent part of the verdict was issued yesterday 4th of September. The decree seems to have come as a big surprise to the ruling business "clique" which was sure of its success and had already started to pave the road for privatization.

The other two axis of privatization are:

1. The draft new health insurance law which has been in preparation to be placed to parliament for the past few years and delayed through the opposition and which changes the social health insurance to commercial one. This was to be done through:

  • Increasing the subscription fees
  • Adding co-payment upon service delivery that mounts up to one third of the drug and investigations fees at outpatient clinics.
  • Adding co-payment upon service delivery that mounts up to one fourth of fees of in hospital treatment.
  • Decreasing the benefit package from a comprehensive one to limited package, which can be further decreased through administrative decisions and without legislative change.

2. The law of Private health insurance companies which subjects these companies to dual monitoring: Financial from the Insurance Monitoring Organization (Ministry of Finance) and technical monitoring from the Ministry Of Health, while in return, integrates them in the body of health insurance as a sole provider of 3ry health insurance and all services that compulsory insurance stops offering to beneficiaries. It also integrates it, as the minister of health announced in one press dialogue, as a provider of occupational diseases & injuries insurance. The future of all of this is that the private sector becomes the main provider of health services as the minister of health and president Mubarak announced.

It has been recently announced that both these laws will be presented to the parliament at the beginning of the next legislative session due to start next month.

A lot is awaiting us in the battle against privatization, but as we celebrate this victory we are more enthusiastic to continue on the road of our struggle against privatization of health and for the universal right of health for all people.

Author/Source: 
Egyptian Right to Health Committee
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