Street children will be included in a new medical insurance system, Health Minister Fouad al-Nawawy said on Sunday.
He added that the ministry is also examining ways to provide shelter for them.
At a forum held on Sunday at the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood, Nawawy said street children are being abused and should therefore receive protection.
Nawawy added that the political crisis in Egypt should not be blamed on homeless children. He emphasised the need for everyone to cooperate to stop violations committed against children such as violence, incarceration and different forms of abuse.
At a press conference following violent clashes in downtown Cairo, Major General Adel Emara, a member of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), played a video featuring minors confessing that they were incited and bribed to stir up trouble between soldiers and protesters in front of the cabinet building on Qasr al-Aini.
Rights organizations criticized the footage, saying the SCAF has violated the law by broadcasting the confessions before concerned authorities could carry out proper investigations.
In August, Al-Ahram newspaper published a study conducted by the National Center for Social and Criminological Research which put the total number of street children in Egypt at 3 million.
Former Health Minister Hatem al-Gabaly was the first to propose reforming Egypt’s long-standing medical insurance system in 2009. However, his project was fiercely rejected because it would have privatized the system and transformed it into an investment project.
News reports state that limited-income patients who have insurance coverage still have to pay 70 percent of the price of medications due to defects in the insurance system.
Health insurance is organized under a law issued in 1964. The law states that employees in the public and private sectors are eligible for health insurance if they pay a membership fee equivalent to 5 percent of their monthly salaries. In 1992, the government extended health insurance coverage to students from nursery to secondary school, further expanding it in 1997 to encompass all children from birth.
Translated from Al-Masry Al-Youm