The Egyptian Medical Syndicate has said a newly announced rise in monthly allowances granted to doctors and other medical staff is insufficient.
Earlier this week, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi ordered a 75% increase in monthly allowances given to medical professionals at a total cost of EGP 2.25 billion, as part of government efforts to support members of the healthcare sector amid the coronavirus crisis.
Under a 2014 law issued under El-Sisi, a monthly allowance of between EGP 400 ($25.5) and 700 ($44.5) is offered to physicians, dentists, pharmacists, veterinarians, physiotherapists, nursing staff, chemists, physicists, and medical technicians.
This new rise means the allowance will now range between EGP 700 and 1,225: EGP 1,225 for physicians, EGP 875 for dentists, pharmacists, veterinarians and physiotherapists, EGP 787 for nursing staff, chemists and physicists, and EGP 700 for medical technicians.
“The value of the monthly increase (after deductions) will be only about 400 Egyptian pounds, which is not commensurate with the efforts and sacrifices made by doctors, unless these increases are part of several forthcoming measures to improve doctors’ conditions,” the syndicate said in a statement on Monday.
An estimated 60,000 Egyptian doctors work at the health ministry’s institutions, with salaries ranging from EGP 3,000 ($190) to 10,000 ($635), according to health ministry officials.
El-Sisi has also ordered the creation of a risk fund for medical staff, a move welcomed by the union which suggested allocating part of the money for “disaster damages” and another for "supplemental" pensions for all doctors.
He also ordered an exceptional bonus be awarded to all staff working at coronavirus isolation hospitals and other hospitals and central laboratories conducting tests for the deadly virus.
Egypt has recorded 656 coronavirus cases, including 41 fatalities since the first case was registered in mid-February.
The syndicate also called on the president to urge the parliament to issue a law for "fair" infection compensation that is in line with “the hazard doctors are exposed to”, a long-standing demand by Egyptian physicians.
Since 1995, medical staff in Egypt have been receiving a meagre EGP 19 to EGP 30 in monthly infectious disease allowance, according to the Doctors Syndicate.
Ehab Taher, a syndicate board member, told Ahram Online that a draft law to increase the infection allowance had been sent to the parliament over two years ago but it has yet to take any action. He says the law has not even been discussed by the parliament’s health committee.
"All we need to is to raise the compensation to a minimum EGP 1500-3000 based on the level of infection exposure of every medical profession," he said.
The syndicate also called on the parliament to pass a law on medical liability and hospital protection law.
“Doctors are committed to performing their duty in all cases for nothing in return during these critical conditions the country is going through and will continue to…sacrifice to ward off the epidemic,” the syndicate said.