Egypt’s striking doctors demand changes to constitution on health services

Ahram Online, Wednesday 5 Dec 2012

Egyptian doctors argue that Article 62 on healthcare provision does not specify that healthcare must be provided to all without discrimination

A committee representing Egyptian doctors who are currently on strike issued a statement on Wednesday demanding the modification of Article 62 in the draft constitution, which is concerned with health issues in Egypt.

Many Egyptian doctors have been on partial strike since last October to demand that the state budget allocated to health be increased to 15 per cent from the current 5 per cent, as well as demanding an increase in hospital security to prevent physical assaults on doctors.  The partial strike does not include university, police and army hospitals, or emergency rooms.

The committee criticised the article for being incompetent and vague.

"The article does not mention if health services will be given to people without any discrimination; nor does it say it will offer medical treatment for all diseases. It only stated that it will be offered for emergencies," read the statement.

The statement further added that no criteria were mentioned regarding the standard and availability of health services.

"This will allow the state to offer the same deteriorating health services that are being provided now," added the statement.

The doctors demanded that new amendments be taken from a draft article that was put together by a doctors’ syndicate workshop.

Egypt’s draft constitution has been dogged by controversy, with many in opposition arguing that it is unrepresentative, having been drafted by an Islamist-led Constituent Assembly. The constitution-drafting body saw mass withdrawals of liberals, leftists and church representatives, and subsequently mass demonstrations have been held in protest at the draft document.

President Morsi set the date for the referendum on the constitution for 15 December.

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