CAIRO: Egypt has an “open budget” to fight coronavirus, the country’s finance minister said Friday, adding that the health sector’s allocation exceeded the established constitutional entitlement, totaling EGP275.6 billion ($17.5 billion).
The move followed presidential directives granting priority to preserving citizens’ health, especially in the face of coronavirus, explained Finance Minister Mohamed Maait.
“We are ready to meet any additional appropriations for the health sector ... in order to contribute to strengthening its capabilities to combat the coronavirus and to provide the necessary funding to complete the purchase of vaccines. There is an open budget for the health sector to combat the coronavirus, and to provide vaccines, so there is no complacency in the health of Egyptians.”
He said that EGP3 billion had so far been provided to purchase vaccines to ensure the largest number of citizens were immunized against COVID-19, especially in light of a fourth wave in some countries, and that scientific studies had confirmed the effectiveness of vaccines against any mutations of the virus.
A return to pre-coronavirus economic performance indicators and the expansion of the vaccination program were closely linked, he added.
The minister stressed that the economy would emerge from the pandemic stronger in light of the gains made by the economic reform program, which enabled the government to flexibly handle the health crisis.
Egypt recently received a new shipment of 1.7 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine through the global COVAX initiative.
“We are pleased to take a quick step to enhance efforts to vaccinate the Egyptian people in cooperation with the global COVAX initiative,” Health and Population Minister Hala Zayed said. “With the arrival of this new shipment we are able to ensure that the vaccines reach the growing numbers of Egyptians ... and we move forward with our efforts to recover from the effects of the pandemic.”
Egypt is aiming to vaccinate 40 percent of its citizens by the end of 2021.
Ministry workers have visited markets, public transport, places of worship, salons, cafes, shops, gathering spaces, and villages to educate people about the vaccine and encourage them to sign up for it.