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Civil society groups criticise ‘unregulated’ decision to provide emergency cases with free medical treatment

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Prime minister issued the decision; groups fear it will not be carried out due to ambiguity of its
nature

A recent decision to provide emergency cases with free medical treatment within the first 48 hours lacks clear regulations, which casts doubt on the seriousness of its implementation, a group of civil society organisations said on Monday.

Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb issued a decision earlier in July obliging all state-owned and private medical institutions to provide medical treatment to emergency cases and victims of accidents within the first 48 hours, at the state’s expense. After the 48 hours, the patient chooses to either remain in hospital and pay the remaining expenses of his treatment or move to a governmental hospital.

The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, the Egyptian Centre for Economic and Social Rights, the Association for Health and Environmental Development and the Association of Health Workers criticised Mehleb’s decision in a joint statement on Monday.

The groups noted the importance of implementing Article 18 of the new constitution, which criminalises the act of depriving any emergency patient whose life is endangered of medical treatment.

The four groups nevertheless said that the prime minister’s decision lacked necessary details regarding the mechanisms of its implementation. Such details included: a clear definition of ‘emergency cases’, the mechanisms of monitoring the implementation of the decision and preventing its abuse to embezzle money as well as a clear reference to the authority concerned with carrying out this decision.

“Without clear answers to the aforementioned questions, this decision will be one of many unstudied decisions issued by the government which fail to tangibly achieve citizens’ rights and widens the lack of trust between citizens and governmental policies,” the statement read.

Upon issuing the decision, Health Minister Adel Al-Adawi said he would assign committees to monitor its implementation and hold accountable those violating it, reported state-run Al-Ahram.


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