Egypt hopes to use its improving health sector to promote medical tourism, encouraging citizens of other African nations to visit Egypt for treatment.
This topic was discussed at a Sept 2. meeting between Dr. Ahmed El-Sobky, President of the General Authority for Health Care, and Ambassador Mohamed Khalil, the Secretary-General of the Egyptian Agency for Partnership for Development (EAPD). Established in 2014, the EAPD is the first South-South cooperation institution in Egypt to share technical expertise with African countries.
The EAPD is supporting medical tourism through the initiative "We take care of you in Egypt," which was launched in September 2020 by the General Authority for Health Care. The initiative provides high-quality medical services for tourists within the hospitals of the comprehensive health insurance system.
So far, this initiative has attracted visitors from six countries: Zambia, Nigeria, Yemen, Sudan, Libya, and the Philippines.
Dr. Abdelaty Elmannaee, CEO of the non-governmental organization Egyptian Foundation of Medical and Environmental Tourism, praised the state’s efforts. In recent years, he told Al-Monitor, Egypt has "started to deeply improve Egyptian-African relations in many domains, including the medical realm.”
Most Africans in need of treatment visit Jordan, Turkey, Tunisia, and a number of European countries, he said, even though Egypt is closer. But now Egypt is on the right track in this field, which has the potential to be very lucrative.
“Egypt now has the ingredients that make it a leader in the health tourism industry," he said. "It has a variety of medical cadres in all specialties and cheaper prices compared to Europe, in addition to its high-standard hospitals.”
In 2017, Egypt ranked 28th in the world for medical tourism, and third in the Arab world. But in recent years, a number of initiatives have been taken to support the sector.
In February 2017, Egypt launched the “Tour n’ Cure” medical tourism initiative, which brings hepatitis C patients from all over the world to Egypt for treatment and tourism. This was followed by the approval of a draft law on medical tourism to ensure coordination between the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Health in December 2018.
In 2019, Egypt declared that it would provide hepatitis C testing and free treatment for one million people in 14 African countries in cooperation with the World Health Organization. In June 2021, Egypt and South Sudan discussed a project to fight malaria, the leading cause of death in South Sudan, with funds from the EAPD.
Another project funded by EAPD will establish a new heart facility in Rwanda before the end of the year. In the same context, Minister of Health Hala Zayed announced Aug. 22 that a specialized obstetrics and gynecology hospital will be built in Djibouti, in addition to a nursing school and ambulance unit.
Dr. Elmannaee, who is a urologist and infertility surgeon, criticized the low participation of the private sector in promoting medical tourism. Five months ago, Dr. Elmannaee established a clinic in Sudan covering different specialists, and “I hope that many physicians will do the same,” he said.