CAIRO | Three months after the first case of novel coronavirus detected in Egypt, the health system of the country the most populous country in the arab world approach dangerously close to the “critical threshold”, but is managed to this day to demonstrate adaptability.
With more than 13 000 cases and 600 deaths officially registered, Egypt, which has 100 million inhabitants, has so far experienced a spread of moderate pandemic COVID-19.
If the number of deaths remains stable, up to a maximum of twenty per day, that of contamination increases significantly with a record number of 720 cases for the one day on Tuesday.
However, shortages of medical equipment, the lack of caregivers worried about the experts.
In early may, the 17 hospitals isolation reserved for patients with the virus arrived at saturation, has announced to the local press Ahmed al-Sobki, assistant to the minister of Health.
Since then, Egypt close to the “critical threshold in terms of its capabilities,” says Ayman Sabae, in charge of health at the Initiative of egyptian for personal rights (EIPR), a local NGO.
With one doctor per 1 000 inhabitants, according to the national union of doctors, lack of health care providers undermines the health system.
This is in addition to careers little valued, a high level of migration of practitioners, and the degree of exposure to the disease: in fine, the caregivers egyptians bear the brunt of the health crisis.
“How will I be able to build my life with 1 800 pounds (158 $) per month? It is impossible,” says Mohamed Ibrahim, a nurse of 26 years at the oncology Centre in Cairo, who also works in the private sector for the benefit of an additional salary of 4, 000 pounds (352 $).
“Ability to adapt”
From the month of march, the world Health Organization (WHO) has warned that 13 % of the cases in Egypt were in the nursing staff.
“We are terrified (…). When we are all infected, who will help us?”, still questions to this day Mr. Ibrahim, whose 17 colleagues from the oncology Centre have been contaminated.
The grievances of the caregivers also deal with the difficulty to get tested for the COVID-19, according to Mona Mina, a member of the complaints committee within the trade union of doctors.
According to it, these latter are denied the PCR tests for the benefit of so-called test rapid, less expensive, but less reliable.
Another area of concern, the shortage of surgical masks, are distributed to the account-drop until April, is only partially offset “by donation” NGO, according to Mona Mina.
To take care of his image, The Cairo, however, has not hesitated to send tons of protective equipment medical international, a choice of “incomprehensible”, judge said it.
In a country where only 1.2 % of the GDP (6,55 billion $) has been allocated to health, in 2019-2020, far from the 3 % provided for by the Constitution, Ayman Sabae evokes also a problem of distribution of funding.
“The government likes things that are”, and invests in infrastructure at the expense of the medical corps, he explained.
Despite these flaws, Mr. Sabae stresses that the sanitary system of egyptian demonstrated a strong “ability to adapt”.
Thus, the State is preparing for some weeks 35 hospitals, specialized in fevers and respiratory diseases, to cure the sick of the COVID-19.
Dozens of screening centres have been opened and more than a million tests, of which 105 000 PCR, had been made at the beginning of may, according to Mohamed Awad Tageddine, health adviser to president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
With approximately 7,000 fans before the crisis, Cairo has ordered new equipment and began to assemble, according to the same source.
In addition, the egyptian military, which is engaged in the production of masks, will be able “to build makeshift hospitals” as a last resort, according to the EIPR.
As early as 25 march, Egypt has closed its airports, places of sociability and imposed a curfew.
Since then, the official figures, like those of other african countries, have shown an infection rate that is relatively low to the COVID-19.
The youth of the population — 60 % of Egyptians are under 30 years old — and a possible immunity due to some of the vaccines required have been invoked to explain this phenomenon.
At the end of April, the egyptian government has decided to relax restrictions and is considering a progressive reopening to revive the economy.
At the beginning of the month, the trade union of doctors had called on the government to impose a total containment until the end of ramadan. The idea was eventually evacuated by the prime minister.
“It really requires that managers change their approach, because we’re still not arrived at the top of the curve”, is concerned for his part, Mr. Sabae.