Life Sciences in Egypt

Life Sciences in Egypt

With a population of 85 million, expected to double within the next 25 years, life sciences is one of the growing sectors in Egypt. Egypt represents one of the key markets for medical devices in MENA region; the establishment of new hospitals, the healthcare system reform project, the population growth rate of 2% annually as well as the trade links with the GCC and other regions provide plentiful growth opportunities.

The Egyptian Pharmaceutical Industry is the second largest in Middle East and the largest in North Africa (MENA) region. It exports to a lot of Arab and African countries through its Int’l trade agreements. The majority of local production, however, is generic products and drugs manufactured under licence. On the demand side, increasing population and the growing availability of cheaper generics will likely spur strong market growth. Egypt depends heavily on imported raw materials, it primarily imports medicaments in dosage and medical equipment and appliances.

Market overview

The life sciences sector is one of Egypt’s biggest industries. Healthcare represents roughly 5% of Egypt’s GDP. Expenditure on healthcare is expected to increase in the coming years. Current expenditure projection on healthcare is EGP75.19bn (US$12.22) in 2012 and on pharmaceuticals EGP12.83bn (US$2.11) in 2012. The Egyptian Ministry of Finance announced that the government assigned EGP10bn (US$1.67bn) for healthcare investment in its FY2012/13 budget.

Healthcare reform has made significant strides since the health Sector Reform Program was launched, and further developments could still be made in ICT for Health initiatives. Training and accreditation are also areas to be considered.

Public healthcare management is divided between many ministries and public bodies. The Ministry of Health and Population (MOHP) alone operates 1,300 hospitals (60% of the total number of beds). It also has a network of around 600 clinics and 4,000 primary health centres offering public health insurance services. However, most facilities are overcrowded and under-resourced, particularly those in urban areas. Although they offer free access to basic public healthcare, Egyptians usually avoid it if they could afford otherwise due to the poor quality of service.

The poor state of public healthcare created a good market for private healthcare services which now enjoy a 40% share in the total number of beds. Private hospitals vary from basic clinics, charity clinics usually affiliated to churches and mosques to 5-star service hospitals. The private sector plays an increasingly important role in healthcare provision.

Approximately 50% of the population are covered by basic government health insurance, a further 30% are enrolled in private health insurance schemes usually provided within their private sector employment package and 20% of Egyptians have no health insurance. There are currently over 50 companies offering private healthcare insurance, covering only some 1.2mn people.

There has been a lot of talk about the Egyptian government’s plan to offer a comprehensive healthcare insurance plan for all Egyptians. The Draft was supposed to be presented in January 2011 but was frozen since the revolution. If approved, the scheme would have increased government contribution to healthcare expenditure.

Main Health threats in Egypt:

  • Non-communicable diseases are the main causes of morbidity in Egypt. Around 15% of Egyptians are diabetic. Cancer, cardiovascular diseases, chronic respiratory diseases are growing health problems.

  • HIV/AIDS is estimated to affect around 12,000 people in the country.

  • Over 10% of the country’s population are infected with hepatitis C, (one of the world’s highest rates).

Renal failure has become recently a major problem.

Key opportunities

Egypt is heavily import dependent. The Medical Equipment market is significant with more than 400 importers, wholesalers and distributors of medical equipment, devices and disposable items in Egypt. Imports constitute about 70% of the total market. The market is highly competitive with the majority of medical equipment being imported, mainly from USA, Western Europe and Japan with an increasing market share to the Far East. Local production is mostly limited to disposables, hospital furniture and few medical devices; some Egyptian industries are emerging notably in assembly & OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer).

Growth opportunities are available for almost all advanced technology medical devices especially in the following areas: autoclaves, kidney dialysis equipment, oncology diagnosis and treatment equipment, incubators, operating theatres, anaesthesia units, sterilisation equipment; ophthalmic surgical instruments, dental equipment and requisites, laboratory equipment, hazardous medical waste incinerators and IT management systems. As well as x-ray machines, C arm x-ray units, portable x-ray machines, scanners, MRIs, Gamma Camera units, mammography units, ultrasonography units with Doppler facilities, echocardiography machines, Angiocardiography units, lasers for benign prosthetic hypertrophy, diagnostic and therapeutic equipment used in ophthalmologic department and eye screening/examination analysers.

Healthcare services are an important growth sector with total investments growing by over 80% during the past 10 years. The need to reform the sector and the increasing competition between the private sector hospitals created a rising demand for hospital management services and hospital accreditation and consultancy.

Most disposable items available are locally manufactured or imported from the Far East. Opportunities to source disposables from the UK are for those not manufactured locally such as casters, cannuleas, endoscope fittings, needles and special types of syringes.

A number of governmental projects have been announced recently.

– Rehabilitation of new pediatric hematology and oncology hospital in Cairo on PPP basis.

– Establishing of a University Hospital in Zagazig city on PPP basis.

– Construction of a neurosurgery & accident centre in Ain Shams University.

– National Cancer Institute Foundation plans to expand the cancer institute located in 6th of October city.

– Alexandria University is planning to renovate and build 2 hospitals.

  • – Refurbish, equip and furnish the existing building of the Suez Canal hospital.

Latest export opportunities – Life Sciences

Latest export opportunities – Egypt

Getting into the market

The main regulatory authority in Egypt is the Ministry of Health and Population (MOHP). It governs the market through its regulatory arms; the Egyptian Drug Authority (EDA), The Central Administration of Pharmaceutical Affairs (CAPA), the Drug Planning and Policy Centre (DPPC), and the National Organisation for Drug Control and Research (NODCAR).

Registration of healthcare products and pharmaceuticals is a very controlled and complex process in Egypt. It includes multiple committees and application reviews.

Importing used and refurbished medical equipment is banned without specific approval from the ministry. This doesn’t differentiate between a simple used device and a high tech advanced one.

CE marking & FDA are widely accepted in Egypt.

More about doing business in Egypt


Market intelligence is critical when doing business overseas, and UKTI can provide bespoke market research and support during overseas visits though our chargeable Overseas Market Introduction Service (OMIS).

  • Heba Mohamed, Advisor, Trade and Investment, British Consulate General – Alexandria Tel: +2 03 5467001/ 2 or email: [email protected]

  • Radwa Sultan, Advisor, Trade and Investment, British Embassy – Cairo Tel: +2 02 271916065 or email: [email protected]

Contact your local international trade team


UKTI runs a range of events for exporters, including seminars in the UK, trade missions to overseas markets and support for attendance at overseas trade shows.

Mediconex Cairo Health 2014

1 – 3 April 2014

Egymedica 2014

14th International Medical Exhibition & Conference

8 – 10 May 2014

Latest events – Life Sciences

Useful links

More about OMIS and other UKTI services for exporters

Sectors: Healthcare & Medical and Life Sciences
Countries: Egypt
Export Action Plan