Egypt has introduced its first ever 24-hour pharmacy service, allowing patients to receive their medication on the spot and avoid waiting in long lines.
Eid Mubarak, head of the Ministry of Health, said the new service was part of a larger initiative to provide more convenient access to medical services in Egypt, which has been struggling with a severe shortage of medicines.
The system is expected to expand in the coming months.
Egypt has seen more than 30,000 people die from preventable causes in the past five years, according to the United Nations, and the country has a national shortage of antibiotics, vaccines and other lifesaving drugs.
“In our country, we have to fight for every single day to keep people alive and for a better quality of life,” Mr Mubarak said.
However, patients will be able to receive the drugs they need without the need to queue in long queues.
It is the latest attempt to tackle a problem that has plagued the country for decades.
A major part of Egypt’s healthcare system has been built on a trust relationship between doctors and patients.
Many patients come to Egypt because they cannot afford their medication and then, if they cannot pay, are forced to go to hospitals to get the drugs.
But the system is still highly fragmented.
Health minister Dr Abdul-Fatah El-Adwani told Al Jazeera that the new pharmacy service would allow Egypt’s doctors to work more closely with patients and make them feel comfortable enough to go back to work.
“They can choose their medications on the basis of a doctor’s recommendation, which means we will make sure they have the right medication and don’t feel they have to wait in long waits for an appointment,” he said.