Egypt's striking doctors threaten escalation

Ahram Online, Wednesday 26 Feb 2014

Striking doctors give the yet-to-be formed upcoming government, and Interim President Adly Mansour, until 8 March to meet their demands for better pay and investment in healthcare

Doctors Strike
Archive photo of doctors demonstrating at the medical syndicate (Photo: Mai Shaheen)

Striking doctors, pharmacists and dentists syndicates threatened Wednesday the upcoming government with escalation if their demands were not met by 8 March.

Wednesday witnessed the first joint action effort between the three health worker sectors by going on partial strike at the same time, which they deem “the first step towards escalation.”

Striking doctors are demanding an increase in basic salaries rather than a bonus system on top of existing salaries, as ordered by a presidential decree in February.

They also demand the implementation of financial and administrative changes approved in May 2012 by the Doctors' Syndicate general assembly, concerning a more suitable system of payscales and promotions.

"We're giving the new government and the interim president until 8 March to answer our demands that have been asked for years, before we take unprecedented escalatory steps," the syndicates said in a joint press conference Wednesday.

"Our demands are not factional, they are legitimate and just demands," the syndicates added, underlining that their strike is not against patients.

Striking doctors earlier clarified that they will continue to provide emergency services, such as urgent operations, dialysis, intensive care, nurseries for the newborn, and for any other health condition requiring urgent treatment.

According to Ahmed Shousha, head of the doctors’ strike coordinating committee, almost 87 per cent of doctors participated in today’s strike.

"We wait for doctors to continue their legitimate struggle in organising an open-ended partial strike starting 8 March, in order to grasp their rights and the rights of all patients," he added.

Egypt's doctors have undertaken a number of partial strikes since the 2011 uprising that toppled long-time autocrat Hosni Mubarak. As of 1 January 2014, they have additionally staged bi-weekly strikes to demand higher salaries and increased government investment in healthcare services.

The Doctors' Syndicate general assembly last Friday also discussed the possibility of a mass resignation campaign by doctors employed by the health ministry. They also decided to refer Health Minister Maha El-Rabat to a syndicate ethics committee, demanding her expulsion for taking action against striking doctors.

Egypt's interim cabinet resigned Monday with a new one set to be formed within days. It remains unknown whether Rabat will retain her post in the upcoming cabinet.

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