Monday,23 July, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1288, (24 - 30 March 2016)
Monday,23 July, 2018
Issue 1288, (24 - 30 March 2016)

Ahram Weekly

Doctors continue strike action

Doctors are continuing their protests in front of public hospitals and their syndicate, reports Reem Leila

Al-Ahram Weekly

On 19 March doctors protested in front of the downtown Doctors Syndicate headquarters and one large public hospital in each of Egypt’s governorates. The doctors are angry that police officers who physically attacked two doctors in Al-Matareya Hospital in January have not yet stood trial. The protest began at the same time, at 9am at selected places, without disturbing the workflow at any of the hospitals.

The syndicate issued a statement in which doctors explained that their protest was a reminder to all concerned authorities that the police officers have not yet been tried. “We have agreed on a number of escalatory measures including a nationwide strike until these police officers are taken to court so as to regain the dignity of Al-Matareya Hospital doctors,” the statement said.

Mona Mina, the syndicate’s secretary-general, said one of the doctors had been called in by the Interior Ministry to an internal hearing, away from the official investigation, by the prosecution to hear his testimony and to decide on the appropriate penalty for the police officers.

“Nothing has happened until now. Not one single measure was taken against the policemen,” Mina said.“This step indicates that the ministry is becoming more aware of the pressing need to take action against the accused officers.”

Meanwhile, Khaled Megahed, the Health Ministry’s spokesman, said hospitals had been operating normally on the day of the announced strike. He said work had not been affected at any of the ministry’s hospitals.

Megahed said ministry officials are doing their utmost to guarantee services at public hospitals to maintain the welfare of patients. “If workflow is affected in any hospital, we will send mobile clinics to make up for the deficiency,” Megahed said.

Doctors gathered on Saturday morning in front of Al-Mounira Hospital, along with syndicate board members, to announce their demands. They carried banners demanding the trial of the police officers who attacked Al-Matareya Hospital doctors for refusing to sign reportedly forged papers given to them by the officers. Other banners demanded legislative protection for healthcare facilities and called for the criminalisation of assaults against doctors.

Ihab Al-Taher, the head of the Doctors Syndicate, said the police officers accused of the Al-Matareya attacks were released 24 hours after their arrest. An investigation is pending and no serious action has been taken against them.

“The release of the police officers is suspicious and we are still hoping to refer them to trial,” Al-Taher said.

Doctors, according to Al-Taher, will not stop working. “Their mission is sacred and they can’t ignore their duty. They are using available material and equipment to fully fulfill their duty towards patients. Our strike is still on and it is expected to increase during the next few weeks if governmental officials do not respond to our demands.”

Thousands of doctors met in a general assembly held at the Doctors Syndicate in mid-February and voted on a set of decisions, including the referral of the police officers to trial, and the provision of free health care for medical examinations and medication, with the exception of the mandatory fee paid for general medical tests.

On 28 January a number of low-ranking policemen assaulted two doctors in Al-Matareya Hospital after the doctors refused to document fake injuries in a medical report for one of the policemen.

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