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No to Renting Public Hospitals… No to Killing the Poor

Statement by the Revolutionary Socialists

The House of Representatives approved a law last Monday, submitted by the government, granting Egyptian and foreign investors the right to manage and operate public hospitals.

Sisi’s government brokers played their part by presenting the law to Parliament for the formalities of its approval, thereby sentencing the poor and wage earners who rely on these hospitals to death despite the deterioration and shortage of beds and medical staff caused by the regime’s neglect. Public health is not a priority for this regime, despite its false claims to the contrary. Over the past years, the regime has disregarded the constitutionally mandated financial allocations for health expenditure, which were set at 3% in the 2014 Constitution and were supposed to increase annually to reach global standards. Today, the regime claims to have increased health spending in the new budget proposal. However, this percentage is eroded by high inflation rates, effectively making it less than the previous allocation at only 1.17% of the expected GDP (17.1 trillion EGP).

Since his coup, Sisi has initiated a marked increase in the number of new prisons built and has boasted for years about constructing more presidential palaces for Egypt. Now, he is renting out public hospitals to investors, paving the way for their eventual sale.

Selling public hospitals is not a spontaneous idea for Sisi. When he offered hospitals to investors for management last October before his third inauguration, he was presenting his credentials to the International Monetary Fund, demonstrating his seriousness in implementing the IMF’s conditions to secure a new loan. Simultaneously, he reassured the ruling class in Egypt that he would go to great lengths in the healthcare and pharmaceutical business, a lucrative trade that has entered the dark tunnel of the Sovereign Fund of Egypt (a state-owned investment fund known for its lack of transparency), outside the state budget. About a year after the Sovereign Fund acquired a 49% stake in El Ezaby pharmacies, it is now leading a coalition with investors to manage hospitals, according to the State Ownership Policy Document.

This explains why the new law does not specify a clear mechanism for contracting investors in managing hospitals and health units—no one holds the Sovereign Fund accountable.

This unprecedented attack on the right to health did not arise overnight and is not limited to this disastrous new law. The current high prices and shortages of essential medicines are the result of the regime’s policies and profiteering from the illnesses of the poor and workers. The consequences of implementing the new hospital law will be devastating.

The Revolutionary Socialists reject renting public hospitals and join all those opposing this law. Although we do not expect Sisi to back down from ratifying the law due to the weak social and political opposition and the prevailing atmosphere of tyranny, we still call on all active forces, especially the “One Fate” campaign and the Doctors’ Syndicate, to intensify their movements against this law. We also call on health workers to defend their rights, as the new law only requires investors to maintain an operational rate of no less than 25% of the staff, directly threatening their jobs.

All defenders of the slogan “Health of Humans Before Profits” must unite now.

No to Renting Public Hospitals… No to Killing the Poor