Dozens of commissioned doctors staged a sit-in at the Doctors Syndicate, after a delegation of doctors and representatives of the syndicate reportedly failed to meet officials from the Ministry of Health.
Commissioned doctors, who are recent graduates of the Faculty of Medicine, are assigned by the Organization of Educational Institutes and Hospitals to work at government-owned educational health units around Egypt for a period of one to two years.
Ahmed Ismail, one of the protesting doctors, told Daily News Egypt that the issue is about the procedures of commissioning. He clarified that their demands included reassigning the class of 2017 (since they were not satisfied with the registration), assigning one security personnel to secure each health unit, and refusing the separation of the Organization of Educational Institutes and Hospitals from the Ministry of Health.
Ismail explained that “we have more than 5,000 health units in Egypt. Each, according to the law, requires two doctors to perform adequately.”
Ismail further clarified that 6,000 doctors will be assigned from the class of 2017. The class of 2017, however, has more than 7,000 doctors, Ismail said, adding that some health units would not have any doctors as a result, which was the main reason they refused to register.
He added that the Organization of Educational Institutes and Hospitals had been separated from the Ministry of Health, which resulted in favouritism in employment and assignments.
“The organisation used to give some privileges to doctors assigned to serve in remote areas; however, after the separation, such privileges were suspended,” he said.
Ismail also explained that they organised two protests in March, “and we negotiated with Deputy Minister of Health Hesham Atta.” However, their demands were not met; thus, they started the sit-in at the syndicate on 29 March.
The Doctors Syndicate’s undersecretary, Mona Mina, told Daily News Egypt that the syndicate is trying to deliver the doctors’ demands to the Ministry of Health, the cabinet, and the parliament.
However, a delegation of protesting doctors and representatives of the syndicate headed to the Ministry of Health and were not allowed to meet any officials, according to Mina.
She explained that some members of parliament (MPs) are cooperative and are meeting with the protesting doctors to deliver their demands.
Mina added that the syndicate has deeper insight into the issue, which is more related to health development plans, and those rely mainly on two aspects, according to Mina.
“The first is unifying health institutions. Meanwhile, some educational hospitals are trying to establish an empire of their own. Second, we have an issue that some health units lack doctors,” she explained, adding that “the question here is, are we trying to support the primary health sector, or are we destroying it by creating conflicts with assigned doctors?”
Mina clarified that the syndicate supported young doctors and urged them to work in remote areas. “But there must be balance between what we ask them to do and the privileges they get,” she said.
“Most of their demands are in the patients’ interests rather than their own,” Mina clarified.