Egypt doctors' strike losing momentum: Assistant minister

Ahram Online, Tuesday 2 Oct 2012

Assistant minister of health reports declining participation rate in nationwide strike - now in its second day - by Egyptian doctors

Assistant Health Minister Ibrahim Mostafa on Tuesday announced that the number of Egyptian doctors participating in an ongoing nationwide doctors' strike had declined by some 15 per cent on the day before.

Doctors, who declared their strike on Monday, are demanding increased state budget allocations for healthcare, from a current 5 per cent to 15 per cent.

According to Mostafa, hospital outpatient clinics were 73.3 per cent operational on Tuesday, compared to only 53.7 per cent on Monday.

Some 34 per cent of hospital outpatient clinics completely halted operations on Monday, said Mostafa, with that number falling to 10.8 per cent on Tuesday.

In a Tuesday statement, Mohamed Adel, leader of Egypt's April 6 Youth Movement, urged President Mohamed Morsi and the government of Prime Minister Hisham Qandil to grant Egypt's health ministry some LE5 billion to bolster hospital efficiency and purchase needed medical supplies.

Adel called for improving working conditions for healthcare employees, including the nation's doctors and medical specialists. Adel also pointed out that Egypt's hospitals were suffering a "catastrophic deficit" of essential medical equipment.

On Monday, the Egyptian Doctors Syndicate announced that some 51 per cent of hospital workers in 21 governorates throughout the country had participated on the first day of the strike. The syndicate added that strike participants in the Upper Egyptian Sohag governorate, meanwhile, had reached as high as 95 per cent.

Ahmed Seddiq, deputy governor of Sohag, said that the governorate's educational hospital was the only local hospital not to participate in the labour action, although some doctors reportedly agreed to take part on Tuesday.

In the Beheira governorate, the strike participation rate reportedly reached 50 per cent, while in the Damietta governorate it reached 58 per cent. "The strike is going fine," Hassan El-Morsi, secretary-general of the Damietta Doctors Syndicate, said.

In Egypt's New Valley governorate, meanwhile, the strike participation rate stood at zero per cent, according to syndicate figures.

Mohamed Zuhair Eddin, secretary-general of the New Valley Doctor' Syndicate, said that not all doctors supported the ongoing labour stoppage.

"This is because they know they are sufficiently paid," said Zuhari Eddin. "Members of the provincial syndicates tried to convince them, but the doctors refused to take part in the strike."

Egyptian doctors launched their partial strike on Monday to demand increased state budget allocations for healthcare and general improvements to doctors' working conditions and salaries. The strike action excludes emergency treatment and critical health services.

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