Newly appointed Minister of Health Hala Zaid defended on Tuesday her decision to play the national anthem in all government-run hospitals, saying it is a measure to “enhance belonging to the nation.”
On Wednesday, hospitals started implementing the decree. Zaid justified the decision saying it helps medical staffs “realise the big responsibility they have and so we can remember our nation each day.”
The decree was heavily defended by ministry officials, but was criticised by working doctors who asserted that the ministry should have “better” priorities to and implement. The minister’s decision also stipulated that the anthem will be followed by the doctor’s oath.
Mohamed, a paediatrician in a governmental hospital in Cairo, told Daily News Egypt, “I would prefer that the ministry issue a decree to equip the doctors with more medical gloves, rather than playing the national anthem.”
While Reham, a dentist in a public hospital in Giza, told Daily News Egypt, “I appreciate the decision, but it is not a priority. Hospitals need a lot more than the national anthem.” The dentist said that she is optimistic about the new minister, but she expects more of her in the field of improving the status and the protection of doctors.
“The hospital I work in is sometimes attacked and the doctors are assaulted by families of patients,” Reham added.
Attacks on hospitals by thugs and patients’ families have been very common lately.
In the media, Zaid’s decision was also criticised. Pro-state TV anchor Ahmed Moussa said on Tuesday in his show that he does not oppose the decree, but he argued that he prefers to see patients receiving better treatment and that doctors are present in the hospitals.
During the last five years, a peak in nationalist sentiment has been present in Egypt, as decision makers have emphasised the presence of a conspiracies and plots. The current regime’s fight against political Islam led, which reached the peak of ousting the Islamist former President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013 and the involvement of the armed forces in civil and economic life. Similarly, the Egyptian security force’s ongoing conflict with militant groups around the country has led to the rise of a discourse that glories nationalism and sentimental mobilisation.
In September 2017, the Ministry of Higher Education ordered students in Egypt’s universities to salute to the Egyptian flag and chant the national anthem.