Members of the parliament’s health committee have rejected moving the prices of medicine in the current period, after several companies demanded to increase the pricing of their products, amid the recent wave of fuel price hikes.
Samy Al-Mashad, a member of the health committee, said that increasing the price of medicine will have a severe impact on the Egyptian citizen, in light of the recent price hikes of several goods, noting that the prices were increased in January last year.
“The question of medicine is a chronic issue. The state has to provide radical solutions, not leaving it to the pressures of some companies, as well as the development of state-owned pharmaceutical companies,” Al-Mashad said.
The government had taken two decisions to increase the prices of medicines on 1 May 2016 and included raising the prices of all products priced less than EGP 30 by 20%, then again in January 2017, which included raising 10-15% of medicine by 30-50%.
Some pharmaceutical companies have submitted demands to the Ministry of Health to increase the prices of some medicine. In the past months, the Ministry of Health has agreed to increase prices of 24 products after an economic study of each one.
The health committee of the parliament rejects any new price increases over the coming period, demanding that the Ministry of Health to take a critical position with the pharmaceutical companies and pressure them to provide drugs in pharmacies.
Mahmoud Abu al-Kheir, a member of the committee, ruled out the discussion of any increase in prices of medicine during the current period, saying that “the companies violated their agreement with the Ministry of Health to provide the missing drugs in the past period. I call on the government to take a firm stance towards them.”
The health committee has requested from the government to increase the financial allocations in the draft budget for the health sector, during the next fiscal year (FY) by EGP 12.7bn to reach EGP 74.5bn and threatened to reject the draft if the government does not respond to the demand.
The committee considers the need to increase the required expenditures and to raise the sources of their funding through the appropriations directed to the advertising item and rationalize the support to economic bodies, in favour of the health sector, in cooperation with the planning and budget committee.
The health committee has concluded by consensus that if the recommendations are not taken, the draft budget will be rejected in the health sector for the next FY, but the House of Representatives approved the draft budget without paying attention to the demands of the special committee to increase financial allocations for the sector.
The financial statement issued by the Ministry of Finance showed the government’s allocation to the health sector at EGP 61.8bn in the coming FY, up from EGP 54bn in the current year.
The health committee of the parliament stressed the need to adhere to the text of Article 18 of the constitution, which requires the allocation of no less than 3% of the GDP, estimated at EGP 5.2tn, to the health sector.
The committee said that the wages and compensations of workers in the sector must be increased in value by EGP 1.5bn, while allocations for treatment at the expense of the state should be increased to EGP 4bn.
Moreover, it requested increasing the health insurance for those who cannot afford it by EGP 1bn, subsidizing medicine and baby formula by EGP 3bn, increasing the directorates of health in governorates by EGP 2bn, to purchase tools and services by EGP 1.1bn, and increase support for the population sector and family planning department by EGP 100m.
MP Sami Al-Mashhad said that the committee called on the government to include an increase of EGP 1bn, which is the debt of medicines to business sector companies, by which they can modernize their production lines and increase their share of sales of medicine in the Egyptian market, which is currently under 5%.
Furthermore, MP Haitham Hariri said that health allocations during the next FY is inevitable, as the comprehensive health insurance bill is being implemented in five governorates, which would require hospitals to upgrade, provide medicine, and equipment.
Hariri said that the past period witnessed a large increase in the prices of medicine, especially after the float of the pound in November 2016, during which, there was a shortage in medicine, risking the lives of Egyptians, including insulin and baby formula.