In response to a speech made by military chief Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi urging doctors to “give without waiting for return”, a committee responsible for organising ongoing doctors’ strikes demanded that public officials be forced to seek medical care only in Egyptian public hospitals.
The statement by the committee, released on Friday, demanded that state officials be banned from travelling abroad for medical treatment, and that military hospitals be opened to the public for free. It also called for the salaries and bonuses of highly ranked officials in the health ministry to be made public.
Field Marshal El-Sisi said on Thursday that Egypt is facing an “extremely difficult” economic situation which poses a challenge to “providing decent medical care” to all Egyptians.
Speaking to newly graduated military physicians, El-Sisi said that after paying interest, servicing debts, and providing subsidies, Egypt is only left with LE165 billion ($24 billion) for all social services.
He asked doctors to “think more” of people and of the country's benefit.
Public sector doctors have been holding intermittent strikes since 2011 demanding higher wages and better working conditions. A general strike by doctors, dentists, pharmacists and veterinarians employed in public facilities started on Saturday, and strike organisers have said that participation by all sectors is at 80 percent.
The strike committee also called in its statements for scholarships to be made equally available to state sector doctors as to military physicians, to enhance the service received by Egyptian patients.
The strike committee reiterated the demand that the percentage of the national budget devoted to healthcare be increased from 3.5 percent to 15 percent and that facilities and available equipment at public hospitals be improved to prevent assaults on doctors by patients angry at shortages.
The doctors said the partial open-ended strike, starting on Saturday, will not be the last step taken in pressing for demands, threatening they would submit mass resignations to the health ministry if necessary.