Disease is kinder to “cancer children” in Egypt than “floating and rumors”

Due to the media focus and extensive announcements of donations, Hospital 57357 has remained one of the most famous hospitals in Egypt, with its brilliance due to the idea of ​​free treatment for children with cancer. The bank after which the hospital was named, which prompted the launch of a campaign on social media called “Save 57357” calling for donations to the hospital, in which artists and athletes participated.

The idea of ​​establishing “57357” as the first hospital for free treatment of children’s tumors in Egypt started in 1999, after the high percentage of young cancer patients and the impossibility of the National Cancer Institute to absorb such a large number of patients in light of the lack of opportunities, because several banks were opened account for receiving hospital donations, which many then described as a dream.

At the start of operation, the hospital, located in the Sayeda Zeinab district of the Egyptian capital, Cairo, had 185 beds, which has grown to about 345. However, the number mentioned in the hospital’s annual report includes the Tanta City Branch, which was closed last July due to economic difficulties.

According to the hospital, its patient recovery rates reach about 72 percent, and it sees more than 3,400 patients a year and serves a total of 17,000 patients between the hospital, outpatient clinics and post-recovery follow-up.

According to CEO “57357”, the hospital’s bank deposits reached £3.4 billion a few years ago, but all deposits have been freed since the 2016 stock market deregulation and the tough economic conditions that followed.

government investigation

Obada Sarhan, a member of the hospital’s board of directors, attributes the start of the decline in donation income to 2018, when the late writer Waheed Hamed began his series of articles against the hospital, in which he questioned the fate of donation funds, saying the administration was spending around £200 or £300 million a year. for the treatment of a total of about one billion pounds of donations, and the rest goes mainly to advertising in the media for calls for donations.

Sarhan said: “Hamed was a well-respected man, but it seems that someone gave him the wrong image of the hospital,” adding to “Independent Arabia” that the Egyptian government has formed several commissions of inquiry to monitor the conditions at the hospital and the amount of donations it receives. and acquitted him of corruption charges after the publication of Waheed Hamed’s articles, followed by the Corona crisis and the subsequent difficult economic conditions that greatly affected public donations.

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In December 2018, a commission formed by the Ministry of Social Solidarity, with a membership of 16 officials and the presidency of a judge, issued a statement exonerating the hospital’s management after reviewing and examining its records issued over a period of five years (2013-2018).

According to local media, the report found that donations and investment returns coming into the hospital in the most recent period amounted to £1.3 billion a year, with advertising as a percentage of the institution’s total revenue between 2013 and 2017 ranging between six and just 10 percent, while the percentage stated by the Ministry of Solidarity for similar parties is 20 percent.

A member of the hospital’s board of directors explained that the action of saving the hospital and donating in recent days cannot now be measured by return, denying that the Egyptian football star and Liverpool player Mohamed Salah has donated to the hospital so far, contrary to what has been circulating on social media.

He added that the high exchange rate of the dollar in relation to the Egyptian pound is one of the factors of the financial crisis that the hospital is going through, especially considering that the prices of medicines and medical equipment have risen significantly in recent years.

He continued: “All the circumstances led to the current crisis, whether it was the attack on the hospital and the accusation of corruption by its management, then Corona, then the fall of the pound and the economic crisis.”

Control of donations

The donation campaign has been met with other calls on social media to monitor how the donations are spent, with many questioning the oversight mechanism for running the hospital and other privately funded facilities. We addressed this question to a member of the Administrative Council of hospital “57357”, who replied that “the hospital is connected to a private association and that, in accordance with the law, it is supervised by the Ministry of Social Solidarity, and the Ministry checks aspects of the payment of donations and the full budget of the hospital and all its financial affairs. and the hospital’s budget is promulgated and monitored by the state, and if there are parties, we will be responsible for all violations according to the law,” he said.

Sarhan stressed that the hospital’s costs increased after the dollar exchange rate rose to such an extent that life-size donations could not provide for basic needs, which happened at the hospital’s Tanta branch when the government decided to hand it over to the University of Tanta to operate instead of closing it down, adding that the continued operation of the hospital and its non-closure for a few months requires the solidarity of the entire Egyptian people, and he rejected seeking government support because the state cannot provide many things in the current circumstances.

Sarhan expected the hospital administration to close down if the current situation continues due to the lack of donations, expressing the hope that Egyptian institutions will unite with citizens to save “57357” from ruin, adding: “It is forbidden to close this giant edifice dedicated to saving hundreds of patients from cancer, and it is certainly possible to stay in it (there). ) There are no initiatives by the banks or the Al-Azhar Zakat Foundation to save it.

He pointed out that “the current crisis has had its consequences on the treatment of patients, after the administration’s decision that it is sufficient to monitor its pediatric patients only until the age of 22 instead of until the age of 25, as was the case in the past, in order to reduce costs. , which could lead to setbacks for some of them.”

In televised statements, CEO Sherif Abul-Naga said: “The hospital’s treasury contains 300 million pounds, enough for the needs of the next four months,” but he expressed his confidence in the support of the Egyptians who will not allow the hospital to be closed.

When asked who oversees the donation funds, he replied: “Our Lord, glory be to Him” ​​and added that “administrative oversight bodies, national security agencies and the Ministry of Solidarity monitor the hospital and aspects of costs.” .” He also denied the drop in donations in recent years, attributing the crisis to exchange rate changes and increased expenditures. Because medical material is imported, and this is proven by the statement that “the treatment of a leukemia patient, for example, cost 700,000 Egyptian pounds ($28,424) before the devaluation of the Egyptian currency.”

At a Volunteer Day celebration at the hospital on Friday, Abu Al-Naga said: “The hospital will not close its doors and will continue to carry out its mission because it belongs to all Egyptians and is not owned by anyone or on behalf of anyone.”

Medical supplies crisis

Egypt is suffering from shortages of some medicines and medical and surgical supplies following the appreciation of the dollar against the pound, and some hospitals are facing an operational crisis as a result of the unavailability of their medical needs, be it devices, drugs or even spare parts for machines that own, in connection with the crisis on the pharmaceutical market and the difficult import of a number of medical supplies Active substances.

The head of the medical supplies department at the Cairo Chamber of Commerce, Muhammad Ismail Talib, in statements to local newspapers, said that state agencies have made medical supplies and drugs a priority in securing hard currency and overcoming obstacles to their importation and facilitating the entry of shipments from the port. clarifying that in the past period, and in accordance with the decisions of the Central Bank, about 80 to 90 percent of the stock of medical supplies, medicines and others, and there was a significant shortage of some items.

Ismail indicated that the Central Bank intervened to secure foreign exchange for the release of 55 shipments of imported medical supplies, and another 98 shipments are being released.

Over the past few days, a hashtag titled “Save 57357” topped the social media trending chart in Egypt, while a number of Egyptian artists, including Mona Zaki and Amr Youssef, adopted a campaign to support the hospital and called on Egyptians to donate to it to continue its work. in the treatment of children Cancer is free, which was repeated by the star of the Zamalek club Mahmoud Abdel Razek Shikabala, who after a goal in one of the matches of the local league.

Echoes of the crisis reached Egypt’s parliament, where MP Mahmoud Qassem called on the government to intervene quickly to save the financial situation of hospital 57357, saying “the hospital is now informing new patients to go to other hospitals”.

The representative appealed to the Government to provide financial resources for the hospital as soon as possible, either through grants that arrive at the Ministry for International Cooperation or from any other sources of funding with the Government, and also called on businessmen and citizens to donate as soon as possible to save the hospital. hospital.

Representative Hana Sorour, a member of the House of Representatives Health Committee, called on the government and specialized agencies to save hospital 57357 from closure, write off its debts and treat it like a government hospital in terms of electricity, gas and water bills, so that the hospital continues to treat for free children.

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