Supreme Health Council: an EIPR Proposal To Reform The Health System In Cooperation With The Ministry Of Health and Population

Press Release

11 November 2014

In early 2014, the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) submitted a proposal to the government to reconstitute, develop, and animate the Supreme Council for Health Services, established by Republican Decree 61/1966 and amended in 1978 and 1993.

The proposal was spurred by the urgent need to reform the health system by establishing an effective, sustainable entity to regulate the country’s health sector, draft strategic policies to achieve just and efficient healthcare for all Egyptians without discrimination, and to realize citizen participation in the formation of health policies and the oversight of their implementation with transparency and fairness.

This paper presents the final version of the proposal and its explanatory memorandum, which was submitted to the government after 22 reviews by the Ministry of Health and Population, civil society organizations, trade unions, and experts in health system regulation.

The EIPR believes that the current council has become a marginalized entity without benefit or real prerogatives. Experience has shown that the council, which is comprised solely of representatives of executive bodies and whose mission is limited to coordination, has not functioned as it should and has not met its objectives. Its subordination to the Health Ministry means that its role is limited to presenting non-binding recommendations to the ministry, to whose directives it is subject.

In contrast, EIPR proposes a council with independent legal personhood whose president is elected by members, who are not employees with the state executive apparatus. EIPR believes the council should become a reservoir of expertise, representing all stakeholders in health policies. Its principal role should be to draft policies for the health sector as a whole, as well as five- or ten-year strategies. EIPR recommends that the council include a professionally diverse group of members who represent all relevant and active sectors as well as the beneficiaries of health services in Egypt.

Pursuant to its prerogatives, the council should have the authority and responsibility to monitor and assess the compliance of executive bodies—first and foremost the Health Ministry—with the agreed-upon schedules and deadlines. In this way, state health policies and strategies will remain unaffected by ministerial changes and political shifts. Under the proposal, the council would convene regular public meetings at least four times a year; it could hold additional meetings if convened by the Egyptian president or a majority of council members. The council should operate in accordance with bylaws it drafts and form subcommittees to focus on specific issues, provided the entire council approves the subcommittees’ mandates. 

The Attached paper is available in Arabic version