MPs and health minister battle over state-funded medication

Minister of Health Hatem el-Gabaly came under fire from a number of MPs yesterday during a meeting of the People’s Assembly health committee to discuss state-funded medication. The dispute ended with the minister agreeing to allow state-paid medical treatment at university hospitals.

The disagreements started when NDP representative Shams Eddin Anwar accused el-Gabaly of favoritism after he allegedly issued permits for state-funded medication to those without need.

"You could have solved this problem with the money you spent on swine flu vaccines or the five officials whom you brought from Dar el-Fouad Hospital and appointed in your ministry," Anwar said to the minister.

El-Gabaly answered: "It is my job to grant medication permits and I receive 1400 requests from representatives each session, which is evidence that we are doing our job at the ministry. You won’t ruin all the efforts we have exerted over four years."

Hamdy Hassan, a Muslim Brotherhood representative, accused the minister of organizing overly expensive medical convoys. "I am against imposing new taxes on citizens for funding state-paid medications," Hassan said. "There are already LE4 billion spent annually on chocolates and luxury cars given to officials as bribes."

Hassan complained that el-Gabaly favors high-profile representatives from the ruling party while ignoring opposition MPs. He added that some people are forced to travel abroad for medical treatment and incur huge costs in the process.

El-Gabaly responded that the medical convoys helped cure 14 citizens and noted that some MPs receive small medication permits.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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