During this difficult period, where the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise, Egypt’s healthcare is at risk of collapse without sufficient levels of support and funding.
According to a statement released on Sunday, the World Bank has approved $50 million under the World Bank Group’s new Fast Track COVID-19 Facility for Egypt as an emergency response as well as a global effort to help strengthen the COVID-19 response and promote economic recovery.
This is the maximum funding available for Egypt under the facility based on the criteria of population size, according to the World Bank.
“This phase of our support aims to protect the poorest and most vulnerable households and help the country implement emergency health operations and strengthen economic resilience,” said Marina Wes, World Bank Country Director for Egypt, Yemen and Djibouti.
It aims to strengthen Egypt’s prevention, detection and response measures to the COVID-19 pandemic, focusing on critical areas identified by Egypt’s COVID-19 response plan through:
(1) Procuring and distributing medical equipment and supplies necessary for the COVID-19 response
(2) Health worker training
(3) Operations of specifically designated quarantine, isolation and treatment centers
(4) Mobilization of rapid response teams in contact tracing of COVID-19 cases
(5) Development of contextualized messaging platforms and tools to improve public awareness of COVID prevention
(6) Innovative Monitoring and Evaluation of social distancing strategies including community mobilization.
Further talks are also being carried out to mitigate the short term crisis implications on the poor and the most vulnerable, and expand social protection policies during the upcoming period to protect the most affected families by the pandemic.
It is worth noting that in March of this year, World Bank vowed an additional fund to Egypt worth USD 500 million to support access to affordable housing units for low income households in Egypt, capacity building of the social housing fund, and supporting financial leasing to design policies and coordinate programs in the social housing sector.
RESPONSE AND REBUILD
According to the International Monetary Fund, Egypt is the only country in the Middle East projected to grow by 2.0 percent this year in its gross domestic product (GDP), compared to other countries which will most likely see the worst slump in decades.
To mitigate the impact on un-organized labor force, Egypt introduced monetary compensation (500 EGP) offered to informal workers registered at the database of the Ministry of Manpower.
Registration had been done for approximately one million individuals working in construction, agriculture, fishing, and plumbing.
Earlier in April, Minister Hala El Said also noted that Egypt plans to increase investments in the health sector during fiscal year 2020/2021 by 69 percent, through the development of 79 hospitals and 294 primary care units in nine governorates and increasing the number of intensive care beds by 77 percent,
The preferential interest rate on loans to SMEs, industry, tourism and housing for low-income and middle-class families has been reduced, and the regulations issued last year requiring banks to obtain detailed information of borrowers have been relaxed.