Doctors push for health care overhaul

Dozens of doctors and hospital workers protested in front of the Doctors Syndicate Thursday to call for health care reform and the restructuring of their salaries.

They also called for increasing the Health Ministry's budget and issuing a law to impose harsher penalties for attacks on hospitals.

Several parties and political groups took part in the protest, including the Socialist Popular Alliance, the Egyptian Socialist Party, the Egyptian Popular Current and the Committee for the Defense of the Right to Health.

Ali Mahmoud, a doctor from Sharqiya participating in the demonstration, said doctors have been struggling for years to reform the health system for the sake of patients and themselves, but successive governments have ignored their calls.

Magdy Hussein, a doctor who belongs to the Socialist Popular Alliance, said medical professionals were taking patients into consideration amid strikes by keeping intensive care and other crucial departments open. He criticized the government for attempting to villainize the non-violent protest and insisted that the collective action serves patient interests.

Mona Ghanem, a doctor from Damietta, described the protest as an escalation of previous efforts and criticized state-run Al-Ahram newspaper for claiming that a girl died in Damietta due to the strike. Damietta Public Hospital has issued a statement explaining that when the hospital had no empty beds in intensive care, doctors transferred a stable patient out of the unit to make room for the girl, but her condition deteriorated and she later died.

Ghanem blamed the government for the girl's death, saying there are not enough hospital beds compared to the size of the population.

Members from the Egyptian Popular Current expressed solidarity with striking staff and condemned what they said was the government's disregard for the doctors' demands.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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