The main reason behind the unrest in health care in Egypt is low salaries, according to Dina Omar, Managing Director of Phoenix, a healthcare consultancy firm, and a presenter on the Arabic Doctors TV Show.
The Doctors’ Syndicate had called Monday for a strike on 1 October to protest the new Civil Service Law.
“It is well known that physicians and teachers receive high salaries abroad, yet the situation is different in Egypt. Providing health care professionals with low salaries has led most of them to look for another job in the private sector; which had led to the deterioration of medical services in the public sector,” Omar said.
Since the outbreak of the 25 January Revolution in 2011, there has been an increase in the number of demonstrations and sit-ins for employees working in the public health care sector. The government’s new Civil Service Law had reignited physicians’ willingness to go on strike.
Currently, there are two separate calls for a strike. The first group is composed of combined healthcare professionals (doctors, nurses and pharmacists) that have called for a partial strike on 1 October in rejection to the introduction of the new Civil Service Law. The Doctors Syndicate has expressed its support for the 1 October partial strike, and has requested all employees to join the demonstration under a unified logo of “No to the Civil Service Law”.
Meanwhile, the second group is composed of physicians who have called for a full strike on the 15 September on social media. The doctors have raised 11 demands, which include the removal of the current Health Minister Adel Al-Adawi and a minimum wage of EGP 4,000 per month.
Omar believes that the cause of the problem is the inability of the Ministry of Health to properly allocate resources.
“The Ministry of Health spends loads of money on medical caravans, even though their social impact is low. The ministry should instead compensate its doctors properly, while they should also ban them from working in the private sector to ensure their full dedication. This has been applied in the 57375 Cancer Hospital and was proven to be successful,” she said.
Omar also has expressed her concern regarding the calls for a strike, as she believes doctors could pursue other means to demand change.
“There are other ways that the doctors can call for their rights in a more structured way, because a doctors’ strike is unheard of elsewhere. There needs to be restructuring regarding their benefits, compensation, introducing pay for performance and ensuring that all doctors are treated equally,” she said.
Reporting by Omar Zein