Doctors strike started over 50 days ago ... (Photo: Mai Shaheen)
The Doctors Syndicate has criticised a memorandum sent by a senior health ministry official to health directorates across Egypt which said striking doctors were "absent from work" without permission and could be placed under investigation.
In a letter sent to Health Minister Mohamed Hamed, the syndicate said the ongoing partial strike was sanctioned by a decision of the syndicate's general assembly. They sign in and out of their workplace, the letter added, and they are not absent because they go to work in other departments.
The letter said the doctors were running emergency departments and the strike is limited to outpatient clinics and non life-threatening surgeries. The strike is legitimate and follows the stipulations of international agreements, the letter added.
The syndicate called on the health minister, who is a doctor, to support the strike in accordance with the general assembly's decision. The letter also criticised the failure of the health ministry's memorandum to mention the word "strike" in its text.
The strike, which began on 1 October, is calling for 15 per cent of the state budget, instead of the current 5 per cent, to be allocated to health, an improvement in doctors' salaries, and an improvement in security at hospitals and medical centres which have been the target of recent attacks.
There are approximately 100,000 doctors working at state-run hospitals in Egypt.