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Healthcare Protection Policies during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Lessons towards the Implementation of the New Egyptian Universal Health Insurance Law.

Alaa Ghannam, Ayman Sabae

Abstract

          On March 11th 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the coronavirus a global pandemic. The spread of the virus in many countries has exceeded the capabilities of the traditional healthcare systems and has challenged government plans to contain it.


          The COVID-19 pandemic arrived in Egypt at a time when the first steps in the implementation of the newly ratified law on social health insurance were taking place. Law number 2 for the year 2018 saw the first steps of its implementation in Port Said governorate. As the realisation of the law is proceeding in other governorates, the pandemic and the policies it brought impacted the implementation process of the law.


          This paper attempts to provide an assessment of the policies taken to challenge the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. It investigates the effects of the health system’s response to the pandemic on the implementation of the new health insurance law. The paper also aims at providing lessons from the management of the first phase of the pandemic, lessons that could be capitalized upon during the implementation of the health insurance law and in the health system reform in general. Understanding the effects of these policies and drawing lessons from the management of the first phase helps identify future challenges, opportunities and pitfalls in providing full comprehensive healthcare coverage for all Egyptians during the realization of this law.


          The paper draws its analysis, conclusions and recommendations from a number of sources including documentation of government policies towards the COVID-19 pandemic from January 7th 2020 until August 23rd 2020, desk review of data on the effects of these policies on disease morbidity and mortality, results of community assessments of healthcare services before, during and after the implementation of the new health insurance law in Port Said and input from key stakeholders. These key stakeholders include representatives at the different authorities in charge of the implementation of the new health insurance law and the COVID-19 response effort, service providers at different levels of healthcare service provision, service beneficiaries and service users and experts, policy makers and analysts. Based on the study’s findings, key recommendations are provided in managing the COVID-19 pandemic, implementation of the new health insurance law and beyond.