The World Bank Shares with Egypt Global Experiences in Expanding Health Insurance Coverage to the Poor

March 4, 2013

SHARM EL-SHEIKH, March 1, 2013 - The World Bank hosted a Senior Health Policy Seminar to share with the Egyptian policymakers different global experiences from countries that have successfully expanded health insurance coverage to the poor.

The seminar was inaugurated by the Minister of Health and Population H.E. Prof. Dr. Mohamed Mostafa Hamed, Dr. Ibrahim Mostafa, Assistant to the Minister for Health Insurance Affairs, and other senior ministry officials. Furthermore, the seminar brought together senior government officials from the ministries of Finance, Planning and International Cooperation, and Insurance and Social Affairs, in addition to representatives from the donor community. 

“While Egyptians are demanding social justice and inclusion, and as the government is designing programs to ensure equity in health services, we extend our support to such efforts that would provide children of the poor with an equal opportunity as those of the better off to be healthy, physically and mentally and access quality and affordable health services,” said Hartwig Schafer, the World Bank’s Country Director for Egypt, Yemen and Djibouti.

The seminar discussed lessons learned from Turkey, South America (Brazil, Argentina, Columbia) and Mexico that expanded health insurance coverage with measures undertaken to prioritize the poor and to look into ways to protect them from the impoverishing effects of health care costs, improve their access to health services, and ensure their satisfaction while treated with dignity.

“We are very pleased for this opportunity that the Ministry of Health and Population provided us to contribute to Egypt’s health policy dialogue through sharing global experience from countries that have been successful in addressing particular areas of priority for Egypt in the health sector,” said Enis Baris, Sector Manager at Human Development Group, MENA Region, World Bank. 

To address the same objective of expanding the health insurance coverage to the poor, the World Bank-financed Health Insurance Project is being restructured to support the government’s program to achieve social justice through expanding health insurance coverage to 750,000 poor beneficiaries in South Upper Egypt in the governorates of Aswan, Qena, Luxor, and the Red Sea Governorate.

“We are pleased that the Health Insurance Project will focus on poor beneficiaries in under-privileged areas of Upper Egypt to protect them from health expenses that further drive people into poverty,” said Alaa Hamed, Senior Health Specialist and Human Development Coordinator, Egypt and Djibouti at the World Bank.

It is worth mentioning that the Bank supported a number of health projects during the period 1996-2005, including:

  • The Schistosomiasis (Bilharziasis) Control Project (USD 26 million, 1996-2003) that led to the decrease of prevalence from 35% in the 1980s to less than 5% by the end of the project. Currently prevalence is less than 1%.
  • The Health Sector Reform Project (USD 90 million, 1998-2007), that led to the establishment of family health services at primary health care level, which was scaled later nationwide.
  • The Social Protection Initiative Project (USD 5.0 million, 1999-2005), which included a disability component and supported community-based approaches to address disability in Egypt.


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