Egypt targets medical travel from Africa

Egypt is hoping to use improvements in its health sector to promote medical tourism, encouraging citizens of African nations to visit for treatment.

A cross-agency recruitment campaign is seeking to encourage citizens of other countries to visit Egypt for treatment.

The Egyptian Agency for Partnership for Development (EAPD) has been set up to share technical expertise with African countries. It 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 medical services for tourists within the hospitals of the new comprehensive health insurance system.

So far, this initiative has attracted visitors from six countries: Zambia, Nigeria, Yemen, Sudan, Libya, and the Philippines.

EAPD argues that most Africans in need of treatment visit Jordan, Turkey, Tunisia, and a number of European countries, even though Egypt is closer.  It believes the country has the ingredients that make it a leader in medical tourism, with a wide range of specialties and cheaper prices compared to Europe, in addition to its high-standard hospitals.

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 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.

The state is leading the promotion of medical tourism, however there has been criticism of the low participation of the private sector in supporting this promotion.