Minister of Health Hala Zayed met Egyptian Medical Syndicate (EMS) Head Hussein Khairy, on Sunday, to discuss EMS demands for better healthcare worker protection as they combat the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
During the meeting, Zayed and Khairy also discussed the new doctors’ assignment system, for which negotiations are ongoing, and state efforts to support medical workers.
Zayed praised the efforts of healthcare workers in dealing with the pandemic, and emphasised that the state is keen to undertake all measures to protect medical workers, the EMS said in a statement.
Khairy insisted that EMS demands be met regarding setting aside quarantine facilities nationwide for medical workers infected with the coronavirus. The demands also include carrying out PCR tests for doctors in contact with coronavirus cases, as well as providing preventive supplies and training doctors who work at quarantine hospitals, the EMS added.
A Ministry of Health statement on the meeting noted that Zayed emphasised the ministry’s readiness to fulfil healthcare workers’ demands and provide them the required protection against the virus.
Zayed said the government is keen to support medical workers by establishing an occupational risk fund. She added that there has been coordination between the cabinet and Ministry of Finance regarding this issue.
Zayed also noted the 75% increase in the allowance given to medical professionals, and that the ministry is considering increasing the pensionable age for doctors to 62 years old.
In the meantime, Zayed said that her ministry has adopted “from the beginning a preventive protocol to protect doctors as well as medical workers from being infected by the coronavirus, by providing preventive medications, training them on using preventive gear, as well as directing hospital infection control teams to ensure that all medical workers are committed to infection control methods.”
Zayed noted that medical workers undertake daily rapid tests when they enter and leave hospitals, adding that any medical worker with coronavirus symptoms is given a PCR test.
She added that over 10,000 PCR tests have been conducted on medical workers since the start of the outbreak in Egypt.
Furthermore, Zayed said that her ministry is monitoring infected medical workers to ensure they have the required healthcare. She added that 20 quarantine beds have been allocated to medical workers at each hospital across the country.
Zayed also expressed her readiness for continuing communication with Khairy to ensure that all healthcare worker demands are met. .
The total number of coronavirus-related fatalities among doctors in Egypt rose to 28 on Sunday, with a total of 372 others infected by the virus, according to EMS member Ibrahim El-Zayat.
Last Thursday, Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly also met with Khairy and reaffirmed the government’s appreciation of healthcare workers’ efforts in battling the coronavirus..
Madbouly, who also vowed to provide them with the needed support, also pledged further PCR tests for medical workers in contact with coronavirus patients, a demand that the EMS has repeatedly called for.
The two meetings followed EMS warnings last week of a “complete collapse” of the country’s health system, following the coronavirus related deaths of three doctors in one day.