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European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations
News article24 October 2021

Remarks by Commissioner Várhelyi after his meeting with Minister of Health and Population of Egypt Hala Zayed

Hala Zayed

Dear Minister [Hala Zayed],

Thank you very much for having me here at the health ministry in Cairo, still at a time when COVID-19 is on everyone’s mind.

With the Minister we have discussed our common work against COVID-19 pandemic. We took stock of what we have been doing together so far and we were both very happy to see that out of €200 million in COVID support we have imminent payments outstanding - I hope that in a couple of days we will be able to release a significant part of the funding to Egypt. This will help the work of healthcare workers on the ground and will provide them with the necessary equipment and support they need to fight the pandemic.

We have not only mobilised €200 million for the healthcare sector, but also continued to help the economy to stay afloat by financing SMEs, reducing poverty, providing decent employment opportunities, water management and so on. A lot of things would have been halted by the COVID, but they are still ongoing because we have been able to find solutions and help Egypt to mitigate the negative effects of the pandemic. We are very pleased to see this happening on the ground.

Second topic we discussed was our contribution to vaccination campaign in Egypt. We know that the pandemic will never be over without the vaccinations. It is only the vaccination that will end this pandemic and therefore it is very important to share vaccines with our partners. I am very pleased to say that we have so far managed to deploy 11 million of vaccines to Egypt and we will continue to deliver additional vaccines.

Of course this will happen if Egypt needs it, because Egypt is also creating its own manufacturing capacity. With that we would also be happy to help and are ready to contribute - this is another major topic we discussed with the Minister. We looked at how we could help engage with manufacturers to choose Egypt as a potential regional hub for supplying Africa, Maghreb, the entire region with the necessary vaccines against COVID and maybe later on also with vaccines against other diseases as well.

Finally, we touched upon the COVID certificates. We have the EU digital COVID certificate scheme in place that is being used by over 40 countries around the world and proves to be the tool for people to move around easier than without it.

In a country like Egypt where toursim is key I think using such a scheme could boost the tourism industry, also help the local economy and mainly help fight the pandemic because it keeps track of COVID spread, vaccinations, tests and recoveries from the illness. With this we are providing predictability for the healthcare system of Egypt.

Thank you!

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Publication date
24 October 2021