A delegation from Doctors Without Rights discussed ways to improve the healthcare system with Health Minister Maha Al-Rabat in a meeting on Tuesday.
The delegation, which included board members of the Doctors’ Syndicate Mona Mina and Emteyaz Hassouna, as well as Ehab Al-Taher, the secretary general of the Cairo Doctors’ Syndicate, told Al-Rabat: “The conditions of the health sector in Egypt have been deteriorating for decades.”
Al-Rabat approved in the meeting a demand that the ministerial decision which states that emergency cases must be provided free medical care for the first 24 hours is activated and applied to private hospitals and public hospitals.
The delegation emphasised the importance of immediately raising the state budget for health to 8% of GDP, then gradually raising it to 15% within three years, according to a statement released by the delegation Wednesday.
“Without these raises, dealing with the demands of the health care system and its workers cannot be serious,” the statement read.
They also told Al-Rabat about the need to quickly adopt the staff law. Doctors in the public health sector say they are generally underpaid and so, many of them are calling for the implementation of a law to organize administrative, technical and financial matters for everyone who works in the field of medicine, not only doctors.
Al-Rabat, who was appointed on 16 July, had said days after her appointment that the “staff law is on the top of [her] priorities.”
She told the delegation on Tuesday that a meeting with representatives from all unions of medical professionals will be held Wednesday to agree on the final draft of the law, which will be presented to the cabinet.
Doctors Without Rights also demanded securing hospitals by increasing security presence and legislating tougher penalties for people who attacks hospitals or hospital staff while they are carrying out their jobs.
Al-Rabat said there will be coordination with the Ministry of Interior to support hospital security management.
She also told the delegation during the meeting that the ministry is not in confrontation with doctors, but that it is on their side and wants to help pass the staff law, raise the health budget and secure hospitals.
The delegation also discussed several issues with the minister like providing medical supplies to emergency departments of hospitals. In many cases, patients will be asked to buy medical supplies and medication from outside because they are not available inside the hospital.
They also discussed the importance of amending the draft health insurance bill to create a comprehensive health insurance system for citizens. The minister was handed a memo highlighting problems with the current draft.
Doctors Without Rights demanded creating a mechanism to allow NGOs to oversee medical services and distribution of finances.
Doctors Without Rights said it is following up on the speed of response to their demands.