21 March 2013
An article by Amal Shafik , PhD from Cairo, Egypt, doing research on Health systems in developing countries
As I ponder the story of Community-based Health Insurance (CBHI) I am reminded of a telling scene in a movie I watched three years ago, where the leader of a war, after losing many battles and wasting the lives of thousands of men, asks his lieutenant: “Remind me again why we are here?” In the midst of all the battles, war itself became the goal . After engaging in battle after battle, the ultimate goal of reaching stability and peace was forgotten. In other words the means became the end.
Similarly, in many CBHI schemes, the multitude of logistical exigencies of initiating the scheme as well as managing and maintaining its operations, seem to almost inevitably overshadow the purpose for which the scheme was originally conceived—the health and well being of a specific community and its members. Moreover, there is a lot of rigidity in the ways how CBHI is currently being...
20 March 2013
Two noteworthy processes appear to be underway in Egypt, both of which have so far eluded the focus of most analyses and commentary on the country. On the one hand, there has been discussion lately in the Shura Council (currently the country’s legislative body) of passing a “transitional justice law” that would supposedly result in the formation of a truth commission and “special courts,” to investigate government agencies, such as the Ministry of the Interior and the Central Bank. On the other hand, the government of Mohamed Morsi has been taking steps to “reconcile” with members of the Mubarak regime and businessmen associated with it—some of whom have fled the country or are serving sentences in prison. These two processes could potentially have a significant impact on the nature of Egypt’s political structure for some time to come.
20 January 2013
The long-expected devaluation of the Egyptian pound is finally taking place. The pound has undergone its greatest devaluation against the US dollar since the 25 January revolution, falling from LE5.90 to about LE6.60 in a little over a month.
In this context, the pound has hit a historical low against the dollar and the euro since 2003, when the decision of floating the pound was first made. The question raised is why now, and not before, given the constant and continuous decline in the country’s foreign reserves since January 2011?
The pound is subject to an exchange system of managed floating. According to such a setting, the pound is left to float, so its value is primarily decided by the forces of supply and demand.
However, the Central Bank of Egypt manages the price through constant regulatory intervention so as to stabilize the pound value and fend off speculative attacks. In the past, the Central Bank would deploy some of the foreign reserves at critical times to increase the supply of dollars in a manner that would reduce the run on US dollars and thus save the pound value.
22 December 2012
The Egyptian government has finally concluded an initial loan agreement with the IMF following two years of continual negotiations. The agreement is to be finalised by the IMF board and then signed and ratified by the Egyptian president, who holds both executive and legislative powers following the parliament’s disbanding several months ago. The government hopes that the loan will help to overcome Egypt’s chronic fiscal and financial problems that have become pressing due to the political turmoil following Mubarak’s ouster in February 2011.
The Egyptian economy is suffering from an ever-widening fiscal deficit that has exceeded 11 per cent of GDP in the last fiscal year. The deficit is expected to increase to 13 per cent by the end of the current fiscal year. Moreover, the Egyptian economy has been suffering from dwindling foreign reserves and a deteriorating balance of payments position, with large capital outflows, low investment rates and a slow recovery in the tourism sector.
The IMF loan is seen as a way out of these complex crises. The government claims that Egypt’s foreign debt stock is not that big (around $32...
25 June 2012
The Brotherhood points to the Turkish experience over the past 10 years as a model, but events bring Egypt closer to the Turkey of the 1980s in the aftermath of a military coup
The Muslim Brotherhood have often invoked the Turkish experience under the Justice and Development Party as their model. They point to Turkey as a successful case of reconciling Islam with capitalism, democracy and pro-western policies. Moreover, it is seen as a success story of civilian rule subjugating military power after decades of continuous military intervention in politics. With the large role that the military has in military in Egyptian politics, the Brotherhood were hoping to follow the Turkish model of gradual democratisation.
The Justice and Development Party’s grip on power in Turkey has strengthened since 2008. A number of generals were tried for the first time in the country’s history after their implication in an attempted coup. In 2009, the Turkish constitution was amended to further empower the parliamentary majority. The following year, the Justice and Development Party won the absolute majority in the national elections for the third time in a row. In 2011 the generals behind the 1980 coup were put on trial, undermining the very legitimacy of the military ‘corrective’ intervention that marked Turkish political life since the 1960s.
10 June 2012
Following the ouster of Hosni Mubarak, Egypt's chances of undergoing meaningful democratisation considerably depend on the restructuring of the state bureaucracy. A functioning democratic system requires an autonomous, professional and accountable state apparatus that abides by the rule of law and protects human rights. Autonomy refers to the protection of the state administrative apparatus from the whims of political leadership, so it can preserve its political neutrality. Professionalisation indicates the formulation and observing of rational rules and regulations that guarantee institutional competence, efficiency and cohesion.
What are the means by which such a bureaucracy can develop in contemporary Egypt?
Egyptians have inherited from the Nasserist era a highly politicised state bureaucracy. Successive authoritarian regimes have exercised tight control over the state apparatus and have utilised it to serve ends related to their own political survival. On the one hand, the bureaucracy was used to cultivate support bases through the extension of patronage networks and the distribution of public employment. For instance, successive authoritarian regimes used to hire thousands upon thousands of graduates in different posts in the local and central government as a populist gesture. Little if any regard was given to the actual needs of these bureaucratic agencies...
30 May 2012
The Ministry of Health conducts a Demographic and Health Survey every three years. It is the only comprehensive national survey to give a panoramic view of the demographic and health reality in Egypt. The ministry always commissions El-Zanaty and Associates to conduct the survey, which is funded by USAID and supported by UNICEF. Egypt's DHS is part of the MEASURE DHS project, a USAID project which aims at generating information to help guide policies and plans on nutrition, population and various health issues, especially reproductive health, as well as monitoring and evaluating these policies. The project began worldwide in 1984 to provide assistance to developing countries, and has earned a high reputation for the validity and quality of the data it collects. In Egypt, household surveys began in the eighties and the most recent DHS was released in 2008. Data from these surveys provided insights about child mortality, fertility, family planning, HIV and other emerging health issues such as Hepatitis C, or Avian influenza. For the last three decades, such surveys have been an indispensable resource for any researcher in the fields of health, gender, sexuality or nutrition. It...
26 April 2012
Mona Al-Tahawy’s article, Why Do They Hate published in Foreign Policy magazine, caused huge controversy over the past few days. The bottom line of the article is women all over the MENA region are oppressed by every single man in their lives; men in their families, in society at large, male members of the government, MPs from the Salafi and Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated political parties etc. They all miraculously agree and come together to conspire against us women and the reason is: HATE. They simply hate “us”.Many responses have been issued, most of them attacking Mona personally. A thing I can understand but not find useful. A friend told me we really have to think about what she said not launch personal attacks against her. I stopped for a while to think about what really bothered me with the article and I found that I am not comfortable with neo-orientalist approach she uses, the way she interprets numbers and her terminology. This is what is going to be discussed in this article.Manipulation of numbers and studiesIf you want to look smart and credible just use numbers, cite studies and surveys and then say whatever you want to say. This is the strategy Mona used to unquestionably prove women’s plight...
12 December 2011
Twelve hours into the deadly attack by Central Security Forces on peaceful protesters on 19 November, Major General Mohsen al-Fangary, member of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), indirectly implicated Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in the current state of unrest. The interview, which was conducted by telephone with Al-Hayat satellite channel, abruptly went from his meeting with families of the revolution martyrs and the wounded to the representatives of CSOs he says were present during the meeting. Besides the fact that such references to civil society was out of context, Fangary urged viewers to reflect on their understanding of the supposed role of civil society. He then blatantly accused civil society of working "for the interest of the people." Guilty as charged, Mr. Major General? The esteemed member of the ruling military council expressed his deep shock at the realization that the concept of civil society as understood by those constituting it, was that they were there to "support the citizen" even if it meant opposing the government. Apparently he was misled, up until that moment, to believe that civil society was the government's unfaltering wingman.
The affinity of officials to blame civil society for all things gone wrong is not new in either pre- or post-revolution Egypt, and for good reason. First, repressive regimes,...
27 November 2011
Statement no. 84 by the Supreme Council of Military Forces on 24 November announced the establishment of a military field hospital in Tahrir Square to provide medical assistance to protesters wounded as a result of state-induced violence. The step, which was both too late and unwelcomed by Tahrir protesters, came five days into the deadly attacks on protestors that left dozens killed and thousands wounded by central security and military forces.Since Saturday, 19 November, more than 12 makeshift hospitals have been established in the square and floods of doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other health professionals have swarmed in to offer their services. The swiftness and efficiency with which the hospitals are established and managed bears little resemblance to the make-shift hospitals characteristic of the initial uprising in January. Nine months of experience that followed the beginning of the revolution has made hard-core emergency medics out of young doctors. Alongside the field stations of the Arab Medical Union's... The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights encourages freedom of information.