The healthcare sector has been the hardest hit by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, making it crucial to look into its further development, according to Ziad Bahaa-Eldin, Managing Partner, Bahaa-Eldin Law Office, in cooperation with BonelliErede
Bahaa-Eldin, who is also a former Deputy Prime Minister, pointed out that it is important to finalise the four main laws related to the sector, namely the medical establishment law, pharmaceutical law, medical profession law, and universal health insurance law. This will address the persisting need to develop the sector so it can handle any further pandemics and similar threats.
His remarks came during the British Egyptian Business Association (BEBA) virtual webinar on Saturday, in which investment opportunities in Egypt’s healthcare sector were discussed.
BEBA Chairperson Khaled Nosseir praised the series of webinars held by the association, which stressing the importance of Saturday’s discussion on the opportunities available for the healthcare sector’s development. This is especially in light of overcoming the current challenges brought up by the coronavirus.
Ahmed Ezzeldine, CEO of Cleopatra Hospitals Group, stated that the Egyptian market is an attractive one for investors, as Egypt has a huge population amongst which chronic diseases are increasing at an alarming rate.
With such an increase in chronic diseases, the pressure is on for healthcare services to provide more. Ezzeldine added that there is a vast number of highly trained medical staff and other key workers that can contribute to improved health sector services.
Ezzeldine emphasised the importance of developing laws related to investment, especially for investors in the healthcare sector. He added that the sector needs some regulation through tight systems to prevent dispersion, fragmentation and lack of interconnection between institutions in providing good and unified service to all patients. This would also eliminate the problem of concentrating quality services in cities, especially Cairo.
Ezzeldine also stressed the importance of developing a data management system for Egypt’s healthcare sector, to provide the Egyptian government and universities with the necessary data to achieve a deeper understanding of sector and citizen requirements.
Sameh Gabra, CIO of Samcrete Investments Holding, said “We have to look into the distribution of roles among the private and public sectors to reach a balanced cooperation between them in favour of the progress of the healthcare system.”
He also stressed the importance of investing in the human element and enabling better usage of modern technologies, especially during critical times when going to hospitals poses a threat to many. Gabra added that Egypt has a substantial supply of medical equipment, putting it in a better position than Europe. He stressed the importance of maximising the potential of the country’s pharmaceutical sector and reducing its dependence on imported products.
On his part, Sector Head of Healthcare for the Middle East, North Africa & Turkey (MENAT) at HSBC, Michal Perliceusz , commented, “The effect of COVID-19 is rather a shocking one on the healthcare sector, that has shown unprecedented defensive mechanisms towards the situation.”
Perliceusz added, “Egypt is still in a good position when compared to other countries regionally as the government has dealt with the situation with great professionalism. It also stands out in the region as a promising market for investors that are looking into opportunities in the healthcare systems’ development.”
The banking sector plays a great role in facilitating and smoothening the healthcare sector’s investment dynamics, as it holds great financial opportunities for new players as well as existing ones. This is in addition to the experience in mergers and acquisitions, Perliceusz added.
Samer Yassa, Private Equity Managing Director, EFG Hermes, pointed out the need to focus on building a unified healthcare platform dedicated to the entire African continent, instead of focusing only on one market.
Yassa clarified that the platform addresses a persistent need in the market due to the population volume, inconsistent healthcare systems and spread of infectious diseases threatening the lives of 25 million Africans annually. This comes in addition to the increasing rates of chronic diseases on the continental level.