Egypt's cabinet agrees on three demands for striking doctors

Ahram Online, Thursday 8 May 2014

Amendments offering specialised degrees, training plans and bonuses might not appease health care workers, who have also called for a minimum wage

Egypt's cabinet on Wednesday tentatively approved amendments to a law dealing with health care employees, offering some of the long-requested demands that have led to medical workers leading partial strikes across the country.

The draft includes amendments on three articles of the law.

The first states that the health ministry is to provide "periodic training plans" and pay the tuition fees of all medical workers who wish to get a master's degree in their field.

The second article specifies an incentive for those working in emergency and ambulance services.

The third grants a specific risk allowance for medical professions, ranging from LE400-700 ($57-100), to be given gradually over one year.

The Doctors' Syndicate said it would not comment on the amendments until its general assembly meeting on Friday, when it says it will discuss whether or not to suspend the ongoing doctors' strike or continue until another key demand, a minimum wage for health professionals, is achieved.

Doctors have launched intermittent partial strikes against the health ministry since the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

Dentists, pharmacists and veterinarians have also gone on partial strikes to demand higher wages and improvements in the health care system.

The Doctors' Syndicate has demanded an increase in doctors' minimum wage as well as bonuses and incentives.

Egypt's interim Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab urged doctors in mid-March to call off their strike for three months in order to allow the government adequate time to address their grievances.

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