Hospitals and ambulances


The number for emergency medical care is 123. If at all possible, avoid seeking care from a government-run hospital. Unfortunately, the same goes for ambulances.

At first glance, this may seem like a harsh, culturally insensitive advice. In reality, you will find it quite practical. Government hospitals provide limited nursing care (patients’ friends and or family are expected to fill this role) and are often stuck with low-quality, unsanitary medical equipment. Doctors are overworked and underpaid.

If you do decide to seek care at a public hospital, you will be best served by a facility attached to a university medical school. These include Ain Shams University Hospital in Cairo and Alexandria University Hospital. These facilities usually have higher quality equipment and a better trained staff – though medical students will likely provide some of your treatment.

Call an ambulance? Maybe not …

In the event of an emergency, you may be tempted to call an ambulance. Unfortunately, if you live in a rural area there will probably not be an ambulance available. In an urban environment your ambulance will probably end up stuck in traffic. This is particularly true in Cairo, where they often end up trapped in gridlock with their sirens wailing.

As a result, if you need to get to a hospital in a hurry you will be better off piling into a cab with a friend or family member. You may still end up stuck in traffic depending on the time of day, but you will find that cabs are much easier to come by than ambulances! Of course, that observation is not limited to foreigners – most Egyptians prefer to get to the hospital the same way.

If you are staying in a large hotel and require medical assistance, the front desk will be able to arrange transportation to a quality private medical facility, and will likely also have a staff doctor on hand in the meantime.

Because of all this, you should take care to have a detailed medical check-up before leaving for Egypt, especially if you have a pre-existing condition that can flare without much warning.

Further reading

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