Doctors announced that while they are pleased with the way their partial strike is going, they do need help winning over the public and informing patients that the strike is not going to harm them.
Kamal Abu-Eita, from the Federation of Egyptian Trade Unions, described the partial strike as a “noble strike.” He said that the doctors are facing a campaign by state media defaming their image and added that even the, “protesters who took part in the revolution and the martyrs were also tainted.”
The Doctors’ Syndicate released a statement on Wednesday afternoon in which it said that it was surprised with a meeting inside the syndicate attended by political and leftist figures, in addition to members of the board of the syndicate and members of boards of subsidiary syndicates, “without permission of the board.”
The statement added that the strike is an occupational matter, urging doctors to keep their political stances to themselves and urging political groups not to intervene with syndicate matters or use them for political gains.
This highlights increasing tensions between the board of the syndicate, whose members wanted to be in the committee managing the strike, and between a committee whose members were elected.
Amr Al-Shura, from the advocacy group Doctors Without Rights said that the strike is running at around 70 per cent and that with new hospitals joining the strike, the percentage has been on the rise since Monday.
Ahmed Hussein is one of two doctors who started and suspended a hunger strike last month, adding that he may go on hunger strike again on 15 October if officials don’t respond to demands.
“Everyone in Egypt knows that the hospitals in Egypt can only be described as a ruin,” he said. “There is no real treatment, there are no supplies and there is no medication.
“It is impossible for us to continue to be a part of the charade that is run inside the Ministry of Health Hospitals and one of our steps will be to hand in resignations,” he added.
The doctors will start collecting group resignations assisted by a legal team as their next step. The resignations will be handed in only after 15,000 resignations are gathered.
“When we started to ask for better conditions for doctors years ago, we realised that the doctor’s conditions will not be improved without improving the entire health institution,” said Mona Mina, also a member of Doctors Without Rights.
She added that Egypt keeps losing its doctors who work abroad in order to escape the dire conditions. She said that approximately two thirds of Egypt’s doctors work abroad and that almost 60,000 doctors work in Saudi Arabia, which is equal to the number of doctors inside Egypt.
Mina and Hussein agreed that there is a need to explain to the people on the street the reasons behind this strike, because the media doesn’t reach many people.
The doctors’ strike started on 1 October and the doctors have three main demands; securing hospitals which have come under violent attacks recently; the raising of the state budget for health to 15 percent; and the passing of a wage law which raises the doctor’s salaries.