Archive photo of doctors demonstrating at the medical syndicate (Photo: Mai Shaheen)
Doctors from 540 of Egypt's public hospitals and clinics have started a nationwide open-ended partial strike, Monday, calling for an increase in state budget funds for health care and for better working conditions.
The strike's general committee held a press conference at 2pm in the Cairo headquarters of the Doctors' Syndicate, in order to discuss the latest developments. An official Facebook page has also been set up by the committee tracking updates as well as calling on doctors throughout the country to take part.
The striking medics assured the nation in their press statement last week that university hospitals will not be affected, neither will doctors strike if they are working on kidney failure cases or in emergency rooms, intensive care and neonatal emergency departments.
Doctors are demanding that the portion of the national budget apportioned to healthcare be increased from five to 15 per cent, that there be an overhaul of the healthcare system and that Egypt abide by international healthcare standards agreements.
In addition, doctors are calling for more security guards inside hospitals following a recent surge of violent attacks on medics by patients and their families in emergency rooms. They also want the state to immediately establish a doctors' cadre with a proper system of payscales and promotions.
The strike has garnered nationwide interest and support. Since the 21 September announcement, several major political figures and parties, including the head of the Arab Medical Union and former presidential candidate Abdel-Moniem Abul-Fotouh as well as the moderate Islamist Wasat Party, have backed the strikers.
A number of human rights groups including the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, El-Nadeem Centre for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence and the Egyptian Centre for Economic and Social Rights released a solidarity statement on Saturday. The group communiqué argued that industrial action is the only way in which Egyptians can obtain a better healthcare system.
Meanwhile Cairo University medical students held a silent stand early Monday in solidarity with the striking doctors at their Giza campus.