Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Selling yourself

Egypt is one of a half-dozen countries identified by the World Health Organisation as organ-trafficking hot spots. Selling bodily organs is a quick way for poor Egyptians to get out of debt, saving them from sinking deeper into poverty. At rundown caf├ęs, these poor Egyptians are hunted by middlemen working for labs that match donors and recipients, many of whom are foreigners drawn to Egypt 's thriving, underground organ trade. Egyptian experts believe rampant poverty in this populous country, particularly in the metropolis, where hundreds of slums are home to hundreds of thousands of poor citizens ready to sacrifice their body parts to keep the wolf from the door, can be a reason for the poor to continue to sell their organs.

Mahmoud el-Metiny, a liver surgeon, says the organ trade will continue for a long time, even with all the punitive measures in the new law, criminalising the selling of organs and banning the donation of these organs to non-family members. “The law will curb the organ trade, but it will not end it altogether.”

Ibrahim Badran, a former health minister, says poverty, unless alleviated, will continue to engender the buying and selling of organs.

21 per cent of Egypt's 80 million people still live in poverty. The average individual annual income in Egypt is US$2,077and the number of poor people is on the rise. Some 12.2 million Egyptians live in over 1,200 slums; 3,728 villages do not have access to sanitation; and 17 million adults are illiterate.

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