The quality of healthcare in Egypt varies widely depending on whether one uses public or private services. Public healthcare is underfunded, and although the Egyptian government is taking steps toward improving the system, the effectiveness of the intervention remains to be seen.

In general, the country’s medical facilities are substandard to those of many Western countries. For better quality care, expats should avoid public hospitals and opt for private care instead.

Unless familiar with a particular hospital, major operations should be done outside of Egypt. Often the best regional healthcare can be found in Dubai, and many wealthy Egyptians opt to travel to the UAE for this kind of specialist treatment.

Health insurance in Egypt

Doctor typing on laptop

Expats should have private medical insurance in Egypt for both routine and emergency care. Many hospitals will ask for cash directly instead of billing an insurance carrier, but patients should ask for all necessary paperwork to recoup any expenses paid out of pocket.

Some hospitals and hospital groups will offer insurance for the use of their facilities only. Many expats prefer insurance that includes treatment and evacuations to a different country in the case of a medical emergency.

There are hospitals throughout Egypt, from small clinics in rural areas to speciality hospitals with advanced facilities in Cairo. Indeed, most expats requiring more serious medical care will go to a hospital in Cairo. Expats should ensure they have adequate health insurance before seeking medical care in Egypt.

Public healthcare in Egypt

Egypt has a very limited national healthcare scheme, and public hospitals in Egypt have faced serious accusations of negligence in the past. Hospitals in Egypt face underfunding, and this leads to a dilapidated infrastructure and inadequate supplies. Expats may be eligible for free public healthcare, but this system is not recommended and has an extremely low rate of usage, even by low-income Egyptians.

The Egyptian government introduced the Universal Health Insurance System (UHIS) in 2018, which is set to be implemented in six phases, with the final phase expected to be established by 2027. The new health insurance system is going to give Egyptians access to both public and private healthcare facilities at subsidised rates. The UHIS will likely not benefit many expats but is expected to improve the state of healthcare in the country.

Private healthcare in Egypt

Private hospitals can be found in Egypt’s larger cities. Many are staffed by Western doctors who speak good English. That said, the standard of care in private hospitals can also vary widely, so expats should ask around for recommendations to ensure the best treatment. Costs can also add up quickly, so we advise expats to take out a good health insurance policy.

Pharmacies and medicines in Egypt

Healthcare by Bermix Studio

Pharmacies in Egypt are in no short supply, and expats can find one that’s convenient. Many medicines are available for purchase without a prescription, but expats who are dependent on their medication should nevertheless bring a supply with them from home.

Pharmacists in the larger cities should have a good command of the English language and will be able to recommend basic medicines to expats. Medication is inexpensive in Egypt, but expats should ensure they buy something they have used before.

Egypt is known for having an issue of counterfeit medicines, often sold in packaging that looks authentic. These medicines typically contain harmful and unknown ingredients. Expats are encouraged to source their prescription and over-the-counter medication from reliable sources.

Health hazards in Egypt

One of the most significant health concerns facing expats in Egypt is sanitation. Expats should take special care to drink and cook only with bottled water, and vegetables and fruit must be washed thoroughly. It is best to avoid eating street food or buying juices off the street, but food and drink in hotels and restaurants should be perfectly fine.

Egypt has the highest rate of hepatitis C infection in the world, but the country has made strides in its campaign to eliminate the virus on its shores. The virus is transmitted through blood-to-blood contact, so expats should avoid contact with needles of dubious origin, including equipment used for tattooing.

Air pollution is another health hazard in Egypt, especially in large cities. The air quality in Cairo can be very poor due to industrial sites and traffic jams. Dust is a problem for people with respiratory conditions such as asthma. Expats should consult their doctor for advice on the best way to deal with this.

Vaccinations for Egypt

Expats should check with their doctor whether they need any special vaccinations before travelling to Egypt, but should always have their routine vaccinations up to date, especially hepatitis A, measles, rabies and typhoid.

Although Egypt does not require a Covid-19 vaccination certificate, unvaccinated travellers must produce a negative PCR test before being allowed entry into the country. Polio has also been recently identified in Egypt, so it’s recommended that expats have their polio vaccines up to date.

Emergency services in Egypt

The emergency number in Egypt is 123. If there is a serious emergency, expats are advised to organise their own transport to a hospital or to call a private hospital directly and request an ambulance, as the public ambulance service can be unreliable.

Expat Health Insurance

Cigna Health Insurance

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Moving your family abroad can be intimidating, but learning about medical options such as family health insurance early on can help you settle successfully.

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