Amidst ongoing debates about financial and administrative issues affecting public healthcare officials, Egypt's Doctors Syndicate threaten to strike further if their demands aren't met.
Despite the landslide passing of the constitution, there is still a battle raging on that affects all Egyptians and no, we aren't talking about the constant clashes at universities. The real debate is happening between the doctors and the Ministry of Health.
The heart of the problem lies with the Doctors Syndicate wanting the health minister to ratify a draft Staff Law which would restructure and organise financial, technical and administrative issues about working hours, promotions and training in the public healthcare sector. Currently, these doctors collect their income from bonuses and incentives. Passing the law would increase their fixed salaries while establishing a fair and organised system that protects the health providers.
On the 31st of December, the cabinet approved a law that would raise salaries for all medical professionals. This measure didn't appease the doctors as it would only increase incentives rather than raising their fixed salaries. “We would understand if the cabinet’s law is an immediate sedative for doctors....But if they want to pass it instead of the draft Staff Law, this would be unacceptable,” according to Hossam Kamal the spokesperson of the Media Committee of the Doctors’ Syndicate.
Fed up with inaction by the health ministry, the Doctors Syndicate has successfully organised partial strikes on the 1st and 8th of January, where the level of participation was at least 75%, according to syndicate figures.
Unfortunately, there demands have fallen on deaf ears which is why the group plans on stepping up efforts. Starting in February, the Doctors' Syndicate is planning a partial strike twice a week, with rumours of striking three days a week in March. If their demands are still not met then they may just upgrade to an open-ended strike.
As it stands, the Syndicate has halted all negotiations with the Ministry of Health, until their demands get taken seriously. This will not be the first time they strike, as this issue has been debated since 2012. Usually the strikes that take place affect only non-emergency medical services and outpatient clinics, while emergency departments continue to run normally.
Perhaps you haven't heard about this issue quite yet, but as angers and frustrations mount, it seems inevitable that this strike will become bigger news the longer it goes without a resolution. Stay tuned.