Tahya Misr aims to find radical solutions to problems of underprivileged segments: Deputy Director of Projects

Tamer Farhat
13 Min Read

Armed with a group of enthusiastic young people and under the supervision of President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, the Tahya Misr (Long Live Egypt) Fund was launched with specific objectives, mainly to assist in improving the living conditions of citizens.

The fund has no government routine, which in many cases complicates the procedures of any task. The fund relies on a group of young people who work together according to the latest modern management methods. Daily News Egypt interviewed the Deputy Director of the Tahya Misr Fund’s Projects, Shady Salem, to learn about the fund’s philosophy and its future projects.

What is the role of the fund? And how is it different from the civil society organisations?

The fund always seeks to find radical solutions to many of the problems faced by the community, especially the underprivileged segments, in cooperation with various state agencies. The fund is multidirectional, including social support, healthcare, urban development, and economic empowerment. We are also involved in the state’s efforts to support scientific research and youth training. We are cooperating with several state agencies and civil society organisations to find solutions to different problems. President Al-Sisi pays attention to finding real and permanent solutions to the country’s problems rather than temporary ones.

What is the nature of the fund? And is it supervised by the president? 

President Al-Sisi has issued a decree to create the fund. It has a special nature and works under the supervision of Al-Sisi. We cooperate with all state agencies to meet the needs of the underprivileged. Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly heads the fund’s board of trustees.

How do you assess the state’s efforts in combating hepatitis C so far?

What has been done in combating hepatitis C so far is a great achievement on all levels. Previously,  about 7% of Egypt’s population were hepatitis C patients, with more 150,000 patients annually. The state now is treating a million people. The fund also ended treatment waiting lists which included more than 120,000 patients, in cooperation with the Ministry of Health. We have succeeded in providing medical imaging devices to public hospitals and provide treatment for free. Additionally, we have participated in the ‘100 Million Health’ campaign and provided required drugs to the Egyptian National Committee for Control of Viral Hepatitis.

How far the fund was involved in the 100 Million Health campaign?

The fund has provided EGP 500m to the campaign so far, through the contributions of the citizens. We were also able to establish an external clinic for medical examination and treatment of hepatitis C patients at the Benha University Hospital.

We have also established the largest regional centre for the treatment of hepatitis C in Luxor to serve Upper Egypt. This centre has become the largest therapeutic and research centre in our battle against hepatitis C, as it provides free detection and treatment service for those who cannot afford treatment in Upper Egypt. The centre has been equipped with the latest medical equipment. The centre was able to treat 12,000 patients so far and conducted medical examinations for more than 150,000 citizens in Upper Egypt. We were able to announce Manshiet El Nuba village as hepatitis-free.   

What about the fund’s new initiative to combat blindness? 

Our goal is to combat vision impairment through early diagnosis and treatment, to ensure that patients have access to an integrated medical service. The fund allocated EGP 1bn for the initiative upon the directives of the president. We created a plan for optical coherence tomography (OCT) scan of two million citizens nationwide over three years. Moreover, more than 200,000 cataract surgeries were carried out at 20 hospitals, in cooperation with the Armed Forces and police hospitals.

And to protect our children, the fund conducted OCT scan for 10.5 million students in public primary schools. It is expected to reveal about a million cases that need medical glasses which the fund will provide for free. Also, necessary surgeries will be conducted for free for the students who need medical intervention, in coordination with health insurance bodies.

Egypt suffers from infant incubator shortage, how did the fund help?

Recent studies indicate that there are approximately 100,000 premature children born annually, with about 2% mortality rate due to the incubator shortage, especially in Upper Egypt. This is why the fund launched a EGP 200m initiative to provide incubators in the underprivileged areas. The fund purchased 564 incubators so far, and they will be distributed in hospitals and centres that suffer incubator shortage.

Is there a plan to increase the number of dialysis units? 

The fund is currently studying the areas where there is a shortage of dialysis equipment, in order to distribute new dialysis units. During the past period, the fund provided dialysis units to hospitals in Baltim, Fouh, and Hamoul towns. The fund also provided dialysis units to the family health centre in Sharqeya governorate and the Tahya Misr Dialysis Centre in Aswan, serving 57,000 patients, with an annual fund of EGP 36.5m.

How did the fund contribute to the development of informal housing areas? 

The Egyptian state is concerned with the elimination of informal housing areas and providing safe and appropriate housing alternatives to the residents of such life-threatening and unplanned areas. The alternative housing will be in the form of new communities with integrated facilities and services. The fund contributed over EGP 2bn in this aspect to solve the problem.

The Tahya Misr city in Asmaraat, whose establishment cost reached EGP 1bn fully provided by the fund, was the first comprehensive plan implemented to improve the living conditions of the people in such life-threatening areas. It was built on an area of 203 feddan, including 429 buildings which comprises of 18,276 housing units and 281 commercial units for 80,000 citizens.

We also participated in the construction of the city of Bashair al-Khair with a funding of EGP 709m so far, to alleviate the suffering of the inhabitants of informal housing areas in Alexandria. This was accomplished through the demolition of these informal housing areas and constructing an integrated residential city. It was built on an area of 222 feddan, including 29,280 buildings to serve 146,000 citizens.

The fund also took the lead in developing the first informal housing area inside Cairo, which is Assal in Shubra, one of the largest unplanned areas in the capital. Internal roads and lighting columns were developed. Additionally, 123 buildings were demolished and reconstructed. A total of 775 housing units were established, in addition to 48 commercial units, with funding of EGP 91m.

The fund is currently participating in the provision of equipment and furnishings for residential units in the cities of Asmaraat 3 and Mahrousa, as EGP 150m was allocated.

What is the fund’s contribution to “Decent Life” initiative? 

Regarding the project of developing poor villages through the “Decent Life” initiative, the fund allocated EGP 200m for building 7,264 houses in 232 villages in 15 governorates, serving 75,000 citizens.

The fund also participated in 14 projects in Aswan in the fields of housing, health care, infrastructure, civil protection, industrial development, and sports, with a funding of EGP 320m to serve 400,000 citizens.

We are currently implementing new development projects in 103 villages in 12 governorates. They include developing 2,885 houses, in addition to a number of schools and healthcare units, in cooperation with Misr El Kheir and the Orman Association.

What about the fund’s projects in Sinai? 

Sinai will remain at the heart of the fund’s concerns. We launched the Sinai Development Initiative, mainly in Rafah and Sheikh Zuwaid, to improve roads, schools, electricity networks, sewage systems, and water wells. In addition, we developed El Arish General Hospital.

What is the fund’s role in crisis management?

A total of EGP 1bn was allocated to deal with the flood crisis in the governorates of Beheira and Alexandria in 2016. This sum was directed for establishing new drainages, as well as designing and implementing a fishing port in Al Max neighbourhood.

The fund also supported the people of Ras Ghareb who were affected by the floods that hit 13 different areas, sweeping off more than 80% of the area of the city, in addition to compensating farmers for their losses.

What is the role of the fund in fighting unemployment? 

A total of 1,000 jobs were created for youth, through a funding of EGP 80m, in addition to providing 1,000 taxis in 10 targeted governorates.

The project has succeeded in providing job opportunities for young people by distributing five-tonne and 1.5-tonne refrigerated trucks, with a six-year payment system.

A total of 500 trucks with a capacity of five and 7.5 tonnes were provided to 2,250 young people, with a funding of EGP 257m.

What are the updates of the “Ehna Ma’ak” (We are with you) initiative for street children?

In cooperation with the Ministry of Solidarity, the fund has prepared this programme to help street children, with the aim of reducing the phenomenon by 80%. The beneficiaries, so far, reached 16,000 children with a total funding of EGP 114m.

A number of children shelters in various governorates were also developed. The fund established a first centre of its kind for guidance of young girls, including a section for children with special needs. It was inaugurated in August 2018, with a capacity of 250 children and a funding of EGP 7m.

Also, the fund developed the Dar Al-Tarbiyya school for boys in Minya governorate, with a capacity of 200 children and a funding of EGP 6m.

The social defence complex in Alexandria was also developed by the fund, raising its capacity to 150 children with a funding of EGP 5.5m, in addition to Dar El Horeya in Cairo, with a capacity of 200 children and a funding of EGP 7m.

What is the fund’s contributions in education?

The fund was keen on supporting the initiative of the late scientist Ahmed Zewail to establish a major scientific research facility, which was later called the University of Zewail for Science and Technology. Zewail donated EGP 410m to complete and equip the university.

As for the “Teachers First” presidential initiative, the fund was keen on supporting it through providing the necessary funding, in order to qualify teachers to use the latest teaching methods. A total of 10,000 teachers were trained through the initiative, with a funding of EGP 80m.

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