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  • Monday ,19 October 2009

Costly healthcare infuriates rights groups


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Sunday ,18 October 2009

Costly healthcare infuriates rights groups

A DECISION by the Medical Insurance Authority to raise healthcare fees for subscribers iscausing discontent in the corri- dors of local human rights organisations and prodding their officials into action. One of these organisations

the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), has taken the governmental agency to court over its decision, which came into effect early this month.“The Authority doesn't have the right to raise the fees of healthcare,” said Adel Ramadan, a lawyer for EIPR. “This is a total violation of the Constitution and the Law,” he told The Egyptian Gazette in an interview. On September 28, the Chairman of the Authority issued a decision for raising healthcare fees for all subscribers. TheAuthority did not mention the reasons for its decision.The decision forces medical insur- ance subscribers to pay an extra LE50 ($9) for staying at hospitals that work within the medical insurance system. It also forces school students to pay 10 per cent of the analyses and rays they get at the nation's laboratories.Human rights groups say although the increases may seem trivial, they can cause lots of suffering for millions in Egypt, who find it almost impossible to make ends meet.Around 40 per cent of the people of Egypt live under the poverty line of $2 a day, according to the World Bank. This makes it all the more infuriating for human rights activists who see their compatriots incapable of getting medical treatmentbecause of the high cost of this treatment.“This decision is illogical,” said Alaa Ghanem, the head of the Health and Human Rights Section at EIPR. “The Government keeps spending very little on healthcare, while at the same time striving to make citizens shoulder the cost of this care,” he added.Millions of Egyptians subscribe in the medical insurance system. While this sys- temis creaky,sufferinghugeadministrative problems and others related to perfor- mance, it is very important for millions of Egyptians who cannot pay for healthcare. Medical insurance offices are always crowded with thousands of people who go there to seek subsidised medication or free medical treatment.The Egyptian Government is reported to specify only 5 per cent of its budget for healthcare. Subscribers are said to shoulder more than 60 per cent of the cost of this care.