The main government bodies governing Egypt’s health care system are the Ministry of Health (MoH) and the Health Insurance Organization (HIO). Decades ago, the HIO was created as the umbrella organization that would provide all Egyptians with insurance and care. Today, it covers only government employees and school-age children.
On the whole, Egyptians prefer to see private doctors for check-ups and outpatient care (provided that they can afford it). In a recent government survey, over half of the respondents said that they attempted to obtain private care before government care.
With regards to inpatient care, however, the statistics are skewed sharply in the opposite direction. The same survey concluded that around 90% of inpatient beds are located in public medical facilities (public hospitals, university hospitals, military hospitals). In addition, most Egyptians’ health insurance is provided through either the Ministry of Health or the HIO – both of which only cover public health care facilities.
Many mosques also provide medical services, and in some cases these are superior to those offered in government-run hospitals and clinics. Mosque clinics do not receive funding from the Egyptian government, and their accessibility and quality vary from community to community. They are more common in large cities (such as Cairo and Alexandria), due to the higher population density (and resulting numbers of mosques) than in rural areas.
Herbal and “supernatural” medicine
While the majority of the Egyptian population has shifted toward modern medical practices, some segments of the population still prefer traditional remedies – especially the rural poor. Some of these practices are derived from ancient Egyptian medicine and others are rooted in a belief in the supernatural, with an effectiveness that varies accordingly.
Even urban Egyptians do not hesitate to rely on more homeopathic cures in some cases. A common remedy for sinus congestion involves taking a spoonful of honey and lemon juice at regular intervals.