The Doctors Syndicate expressed concern about the minister of health’s announcement that the new health insurance system will be implemented without amendments to many aspects of the bill.
Minister of Health Ahmed Emad El-Din spoke about the upcoming course of action for the ministry during a meeting on Sunday with senior ministerial officials. The plan tackled 11 items, including implementing the new health insurance system soon.
Secretary-General of the syndicate Mona Mina said the bill was amended several times but still has many aspects that need revision.
“The main threat lies in the potential of privatising rundown public hospitals or, in the case that a hospital does not meet the criteria to work under the umbrella of the new health insurance system, closing them down,” she said.
According to Mina, the question of the fate of these hospitals and their medical staff has been raised several times during the syndicate’s discussions with the ministry, but a definitive answer has still not been reached.
The latest version of the bill states that the ownership of these neglected hospitals will remain under that of the government. However, Mina said: “The bill did not clearly mention that the private sector will not be involved in the management of the public hospitals.”
The minister’s plan tackled the restoration of the healthcare sector and the improvement of services at existing hospitals by building 135 new healthcare facilities and developing 5,314 units. According to the ministry, this is the first milestone in implementing the new health insurance system.
“About 2,558 healthcare units have already been renovated, while the rest are still under construction,” the ministry said in an official statement.
The new health insurance bill aims to provide health insurance to low-income citizens, making use of new medical insurance cards linked to families, rather than just individuals.
The new medical insurance system will cover a new set of diseases and injuries, through an authority that operates directly under the president.
The ministry will launch a quality-control authority for hospitals in the new system. Only hospitals with high-quality infrastructure and equipment, and qualified doctors on appropriate salaries will be included in the insurance system.
Relations between the Doctors Syndicate and the Health Ministry have been rife with disagreements on many other issues aside from the health insurance bill. The conflict intensified with the infamous assault on two doctors at Matariya Teaching Hospital and the subsequent general assembly held in mid-February, which drafted a range of decisions that have since been contested by the ministry.