If you tell me that banks are institutions solely responsible for financial transactions such as lending and investing and their primary objective is the maximization of profit, well, you are almost completely right. But what if I told you that some banks were created for completely different reasons, more “human” reasons? Would it seem unrealistic, far-fetched?
What if I told you that in Egypt, there is a bank created only to provide medical treatment for people who cannot afford it? It might seem utopian, but nonetheless it’s true. And this bank is called “The Egyptian Cure Bank” (Bank Al Shefaa Al Masry), a sister organization to the Egyptian Food Bank (which has for sole objective the eradication of hunger).
Egypt is a country where almost half of the population is illiterate and in extremely poor living conditions. You can imagine how health care becomes a huge challenge, and requires more than the efforts of a government (who, on a related note, spends more on the security apparatus than on health and education combined) to be truly efficient and responsive to societal needs.
In such conditions, the Egyptian Cure Bank represents a model for hope and commitment through the provision of free health care by civil society, in a country where the government fails to provide its citizens basic health care on a consistent and effective basis. A proof of such a commitment is the mission of the bank, as stated by its official website:
“Providing a high quality Health Care System for those who cannot afford to pay from the Egyptian Society – free of charge. This is based on our expertise in both health care and charity work and supported by our strong network of operating systems together with the cooperation of pertinent service providers.” (Egyptiancurebank.com)
The Bank cooperates with non-governmental organizations, all types of medical institutions such as hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, laboratories, x-ray centers, pharmaceutical companies and medical suppliers, in order to ensure a free and effective service delivery to the largest number of stakeholders. It also relies on extensive research in order to ensure that potential patients are truly in need of free health care service.
Aside from an exceptional full health care coverage, the bank’s medical programs cover a wide area of opportunities, as it also tackles the prevention of diseases, the development of civil hospitals, emergency rescues, to name a few.
In terms of funding, it has two main sponsors from the private sector, and relies on the above mentioned partnerships and donations (in kind contributions, cash donations, bank transfers, etc.) to ensure sustainability and effective delivery.
All these points show the tremendous efforts undertaken by the Bank to ensure excellence in terms of quality and quantity in health care provision. I firmly believe that the Egyptian Cure Bank serves as a model for the world, a world where diseases that could have been prevented or cured kill thousands every single day. People are neglected every day, not only by their governments, but by others.
If the basic right of health care for all becomes a challenge, well, this challenge was created by men and must be solved by men. We all share responsibility in solving this issue, and people cannot wait for their governments forever, they must take matters into their own hands, especially if the matter here is their life. And I can safely say that the Egyptian Cure Bank just shows the world how to do it. Governments of Egypt and the world, please follow.