Egypt’s healthcare sector remains an attractive market for local and international investment in both the medium and long term, according to Ashraf Hatem, Member of Parliament (MP) and former Minister of Health.
Hatem added that there are many areas in which development and expansion are possible, particularly in the period following the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
He said that the sector enjoys great competitiveness and boasts a strong workforce, including trained doctors and nurses. It also has good prices from a world perspective, which is a significant mix, and ensures that healthcare is a good investment opportunity for the country.
Hatem’s remarks came during a virtual conference, titled “Future of Healthcare Investment in Egypt”, organised by the British Egyptian Business Association (BEBA), as part of the Health Care virtual week.
He pointed out that President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi has integrated the Gypto Pharma City, which is dedicated to drug manufacturing in Egypt, and which is one of the biggest such entities in the Middle East.
It is in the process of acquiring an expanded industrial technological capacity in the pharmaceutical industries sector.
“Hopefully it will attract further international investment, although there is, of course, a challenge in increasing healthcare facilities geographically beyond Cairo and Alexandria, and to improve access to healthcare especially in Upper Egypt,” Hatem said, “In our current work, and in terms of the changes coming after the pandemic, we must also require many new laws and to follow internationally recognised norms and best practices. Egypt has already introduced some ambitious laws.”
He added that the House of Representatives’ health committee is in ongoing discussions with the government and other stakeholders with regard to reforms to institutionalise the healthcare investment process.
“This would also ensure that clear, precise procedures and laws are provided,” Hatem said, “It is our top priority to adopt and modify laws which affect the practice of the profession, especially in the pharmaceutical profession and medical licensing.”
He said that Egypt is an export hub for Africa, and assured that the country is keen to deepen ties with Africa. It aims to achieve continental cooperation by promoting its exports and investments in Africa, especially in the medical field.
Egypt also boasts huge potential growth, with the government hoping to leverage the country’s strategic geographic position and industrial base in the pharmaceutical industry for both Africa and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.
“As we find ourselves in the recovery phase following the COVID-19, we need to improve access to health care, and that means polyclinics to not only provide health care activity, but also promote a healthy lifestyle,” he said.
Hatem noted that the key challenge is to ensure that quality medical care is offered at private and public healthcare facilities, whilst also offering generally a different level of service from polyclinic hospitals. As part of this, it is important to push for strengthening collaboration among all health institutions.
He also said said that as Egypt has been undergoing a digital transformation during the COVID-19 pandemic, which is expected to give the healthcare industry a timely boost in terms of its technical offerings. It will also be a significant game-changer for Egypt’s healthcare system.
The former minister said that in some cases, Egypt is now witnessing a remote health care, where patients can receive healthcare through online platforms, which is something of a revolution. Hatem said that the government is also encouraging the private sector to take a leading role in providing health care services.
“The regional potential for national operators to work in Egypt and the Egypt healthcare sector is very promising,” Hatem said.
He noted that the COVID-19 pandemic is only expected to increase investments into the sector, with most of the funding coming from foreign investors.
The pandemic is also expected to catch the attention of local investors and to ensure that investment in the health sector is redefined for economic development.