By Tamim Elyan
CAIRO: Tens of doctors organized a march Sunday from the Doctors’ Syndicate to the Ministry of Health demanding the resignation of Minister Ashraf Hatem as well as “corrupt” ministry officials.
Doctors said they will resume their strike since their demands were not met, setting an initial date of May 31.
“The government [reneged] on its pledge to us. The protest today is to reiterate our demands,” said Rashwan Shaaban, spokesman of the Doctors Without Rights movement.
Doctors met with Prime Minister Essam Sharaf and Finance Minister Samir Radwan earlier this month following an open-ended strike and were promised an increase in wages and the health budget.
However, a statement issued Sunday by the higher committee supervising the strike said after a promise to double the health budget from 3.5 percent to 15 percent of the national budget, they were told the increase will range from 23.5 percent to 27 percent.
A statement said this percentage would only deal with inflationary pressures without actually increasing the budget, leaving no room to improve “terrible” hospital conditions.
The statement added that when doctors suggested taking money from the budgets of the interior ministry or the presidency, they were told these articles are non-negotiable.
Protestors chanted slogans against Hatem and head of the Doctors Syndicate Hamdy El-Sayyed.
“Employees of the ministry joined us and we were planning to sack Hatem by force from his office but he found out and left to attend a conference outside the ministry,” said Ramy Fouad, member of the group’s higher committee.
The date of the strike is still under discussion since some objected to it being too short notice, he said.
“There is no other way we can achieve our demands except by going on strike, we want to get rid of corrupt officials and achieve social justice,” Fouad said.
Doctors organized two strikes on May 10 and 17, with more than 80 percent of doctors participating nationwide.
Doctors are also demanding the state provide adequate security at hospitals.