New medical city may bring opportunity and inequality

Egypt’s first international medical city is set to be established to offer global standards of medical education through a medical sciences university and colleges which will grant degrees equivalent to European certificates.

This project was announced recently by British-Egyptian Nasser Fouad, Viceroy for Cheshire County, United Kingdom, and the chairman of the board of directors of the St George Healthcare Group.

Located on an area of about 70 acres (28ha) in front of the new administrative capital on the Suez Road, the city “will include a comprehensive university for medical sciences, an English medical college, a college of physiotherapy, and a college of nursing, the degrees of which are awarded directly from the UK for the first time in Egypt”, Egypt Independentreported.

Ahmed El-Gohary, emeritus professor of clinical pathology and founding president of the Egypt-Japan University of Science and Technology, or E-JUST, in Alexandria, told University World News that the idea of establishing a medical city in the Middle East and North Africa, or MENA, region is becoming a trend to qualify medical services and education.

Significance for medical tourism

“The combination of medical activities, including higher education (under- and post-graduate), technical education, hospitals (general or specialised), medical research centres, rehabilitation and convalescence condominiums, and supplementary medical services are more capable of providing one-shop medical management, and to promote medical tourism,” El-Gohary said.

Egypt ranked fourth regionally and 26th worldwide in the 2020-21 Medical Tourism Index, which includes several components, including medical workforce experience, and internationalisation of staff and hospitals.

“There is a great opportunity for success due to the political decision in Egypt to support the private sector to invest in all industrial or service sectors and health is not an exception,” El-Gohary added.

Cairo favoured for medical education

“The demand is very high in Egypt (with a population of more than 100 million). Many Arab countries’ citizens and students are still looking to Cairo as the preferred destination for medical education and complicated, chronic and resistant illnesses,” El-Gohary noted.

He said the success of a medical city relies on the availability of well-trained staff, and that such a city can provide the attractive employment opportunities healthcare workers are looking for.

“Retaining medical professionals, especially efficient doctors, should be counted as a secondary benefit for the health system in Egypt.”

The shortage of health workers in Egypt escalated last year as thousands of health workers left in search of better working conditions. On 10 January 2023, the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights quoted a statement of the Egyptian Medical Syndicate that 4,261 doctors resigned from government health institutions in 2022 – equivalent to 12 doctors per day. This is the most significant annual increase in resignations in the past seven years.

“There is no doubt that the holistic medical environment will have a positive impact on the medical schools to be established, provided that the necessary facilities and utilities will be in place,” El-Gohary emphasised. Egypt has 39 faculties of medicine, according to the World Directory of Medical Schools.

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