The general committee of the strike of Egypt’s doctors has encouraged patients to ensure they collect their prescriptions before the start of the doctors’ strike on 1 October. The committee has sent posters to hospitals across the country, to alert patients to the importance of collecting their medication.
The move, which comes days ahead of the strike, is intended to reassure worried patients. People will be allowed to collect their medication early this week, and every Thursday for the duration of the strike.
“We sent out faxes to hospitals telling them to hang up posters so that the patients know in advance, because we don’t want to harm the patients. Even patients who are scheduled to collect their medication after the strike begins can pick it up earlier, this Thursday. Throughout the strike, they can pick up their medication every Thursday,” said Ehab Taher, the treasurer of the doctors’ syndicate in Cairo.
The medication, Taher said, is “provided to patients who receive treatment at the expense of the state. It is provided by the Ministry of Health and is usually given to patients who have diabetes, blood pressure, and chronic diseases.”
On Monday the doctors’ committee sent an open letter to all citizens, stating that the doctors “realise that public hospitals are not providing adequate medical care.” The letter added that in Egypt the government only spends around five per cent of its budget on healthcare, and demands funding be raised to 15 per cent.
“We are doing this for the patients. Of course, part of it is for our rights, but part is for the patients,” Taher said. He wants the patients to receive proper medical care, with proper equipment. He added that the doctors and patients are unified against the government and the strike would not harm the patients.
In addition to raising the percentage of the budget allocated to healthcare, the doctors are demanding better payment. They want a new wage law to be published in the official gazette and to raise the minimum salary of doctors to EGP 3,000. The doctors are also demanding harsh punishments for people who carry out attacks against hospitals, following a series of violent attacks in recent months.
The strike will include all the hospitals that belong to the Ministry of Health, but not university, armed forces and police hospitals. It will include all medical services except for emergency services.
The general committee of the strike of Egypt’s doctors was elected during the general assembly of the doctors’ syndicate last Friday. Controversially, Khairy Abd Al-Dayem, the head of the syndicate, walked out of the assembly, along with other board members, when the majority of doctors refused to allow the board to form the committee themselves.
The following day, Al-Dayem refused to recognise the decisions of the assembly made in his absence. The doctors who remained in the general assembly and elected the committee numbered over 1,000.