Tuesday,12 December, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1285, (3 - 9 March 2016)
Tuesday,12 December, 2017
Issue 1285, (3 - 9 March 2016)

Ahram Weekly

Doctors on strike

Doctors have begun their threatened strike by providing medical services for free, reports Reem Leila

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Al-Ahram Weekly

True to their warning, doctors began a strike on 27 February. They are continuing to work, however, treating patients and providing them with medical services, but are not charging any fees. The move is considered by many health officials to be a waste of public funds and unconstitutional.

The strike was agreed upon at a meeting of the Doctors Syndicate’s general assembly on 12 February, in the wake of an assault by two low-ranking policemen on doctors at Al-Matariya Hospital. Following the attack, hundreds of doctors throughout the country held a one-hour strike in front of their hospitals.

According to an official statement issued by the syndicate, the number of hospitals participating in the strike was deemed satisfactory. Eleven public hospitals in Cairo are now providing their medical services to patients for free. These include Imbaba, Shubra, Al-Mounira General Hospital and Dar Al-Salam Hospital, as well as 80 per cent of Damietta, Sohag and Al-Menoufiya hospitals. Around 75 per cent of Luxor’s hospitals, half of those in Beni Sweif and the Red Sea, 60 per cent of Al-Sharqiya and Assiut hospitals and 40 per cent of Al-Daqahliya hospitals are taking part in the strike.

Hospitals in Al-Fayoum and Al-Minya governorates refrained from participating in the strike and did not abide by the syndicate’s decision.

The Ministry of Health and Population warned doctors against striking and issued a statement describing their move as “unconstitutional”. One day before the strike began, Health Minister Ahmed Emad sent a leaflet to all ministry hospitals explaining that hospital work is regulated by internal bylaws. “It is essential to abide by the bylaws and follow them,” Emad said.

Emad said any employee who refuses to collect fees for medical services provided will be subject to questioning for not enforcing the law and will be responsible for wasting public funds.

Meanwhile, Khaled Megahed, the Health Ministry’s spokesman, said hospitals were operating normally on the day of the strike and that the flow of work was not affected at any of the ministry’s hospitals.

Responding to claims that the strike is unconstitutional, the syndicate said in a earlier statement that the decision was taken “in accordance with Article 18 of the constitution” and two prime ministerial decisions. The article states: “Every citizen has the right to health and to comprehensive health care which complies with quality standards.”

Mona Mina, the syndicate’s secretary-general, said the decision did not include the cost of a check-up. In emergency cases patients can pay up to LE5,000. “The normal cost of a check-up at public hospitals is just LE5,” Mina said.

Doctors, according to Mina, will not stop working because their mission is sacred and they cannot ignore their duties. “They used available materials and equipment to fully fulfill their duty towards patients. Our strike is still on and is expected to increase during the next few weeks if government officials do not respond to our demands,” said Mina.

Since the Al-Matariya attack, doctors have been calling for a safe work environment. They have demanded that the assailants be held accountable and tried in court. They also called for drafting legislation that would impose heavy penalties on anyone who attacks doctors during their working hours.

 

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