Medical professionals from the Doctors’, Pharmacists and Dentists’ Syndicates marched to the cabinet building on Saturday to demand the passing of the draft Staff Law.
The Doctors’ Syndicate has held a number of single-day partial strikes in 2014, demanding the passing of the draft Staff Law, reforms to Egypt’s healthcare system and pay raises. The doctors also began an open-ended strike on 8 March.
Medical professionals also protested what they described as “transgressions” by the deputy finance minister during a meeting with a delegation from the Doctors’ Strike Committee last Tuesday.
Rapporteur of the Media Committee of the syndicate Hossam Kamal said the meeting was scheduled to be held with Finance Minister Hany Kadry Dimian, but Dimian assigned his deputy to attend instead.
“We blame the Doctors’ Strike Committee for not withdrawing from the meeting right away,” Kamal said.
The meeting was held to look into the finance ministry’s readiness to implement the draft Staff Law.
The draft Staff Law would secure better working conditions for all healthcare professionals. It would also organise both administrative affairs, such as training, promotions, and working hours, as well as financial affairs for all healthcare professionals.
Representatives of the Doctors’ Strike Committee met two weeks ago with Health Minister Adel Hassan Al-Adawi, and both parties agreed to a final draft of the Staff Law; the law was submitted to interim Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb’s cabinet. Representatives from the Ministry of Finance did not attend the meeting.
The Doctors’ Syndicate has halted its negotiations with the cabinet until the latter reflects a level of “seriousness” in addressing the issue, Kamal said. He added that the doctors are demanding the official count of professionals within the health ministry from the Ministry of Finance.
The doctors are also preparing a new form of escalation that would take the form of an administrative strike. The strike, scheduled to begin mid-April, would see the doctors refraining from issuing all types of medical certificates, except for birth and death certificates.
Ahmed Shousha, head of the Doctors’ Strike Committee, said the doctors will not be issuing any certificates that are not urgent.
The Doctors’ Syndicate began collecting mass resignations on 25 March as a form of escalation to the strike they began in January. The campaign aims to collect 20,000 resignations to present to the Ministry of Health as a pressure tool. Shousha said the number of doctors who have submitted their resignations is yet to be counted.
“It is hard to announce the number now since the campaign is simultaneously active in several governorates,” Kamal said.
Doctors’ calls for reforms to the healthcare system have been ongoing for years. Doctors have held an open-ended strike in 2012; it lasted for over 80 days and ended when the doctors were promised that the draft Staff Law would be passed. The draft was referred to the Shura Council in 2013, but before passing the law, the legislature was disbanded in July.