Ministry of Health to hold second meeting to discuss doctors’ demands
Health Minister Adel al-Adawy - YOUM7 (Archive)

CAIRO: The negotiating committee at the Ministry of Health will hold a second meeting Wednesday to discuss the demands of the doctors and pharmacists.

Minister of Health Adel al-Adawy formed a negotiating committee, which includes representatives from the ministry and medical syndicates, on March 10 to study doctors’ demands with the aim of ending the Doctors’ Syndicate strike.

Sources in the committee told Youm7 on Wednesday that they agreed during the first meeting held last Monday to amend some articles of the cadre law, especially the articles related to financial and administrative points in the law.

The committee sources also told Youm7 that the meeting did not discuss suspending the open partial strike of doctors and pharmacists, which began on March 8, in order to avoid any pressure from the ministry on the Doctors’ Syndicate to stop strike.

“Minister of Health Adel al-Adawy has given instructions to the crisis committee in the ministry to stop declaring the ratio of doctors participating in the strike, which increases the dispute between both parties,” the sources added.

Former Minister of Health Maha Rabat was summoned to the Doctors’ Syndicate’s ethics committee on March 9 regarding accusations against her claiming that she was misleading public opinion and issuing false data .

On Feb. 12, the Doctors’ Syndicate announced in a press release that their partial strike reached a participation rate of 40 percent among doctors in Cairo.

However, the Ministry of Health provided a far different percentage for the partial strike’s participation. Minister of Healthy Assistant Deputy Hesham Atta said the strike participation reached 18 percent of doctors in Cairo and all other governorates. The discrepancy in the percentage rates between the Doctors’ Syndicate and the Ministry of Health caused controversy and suspicion.

Representatives from the medical syndicates have previously stated their refusal of article no. 14, 2014, concerning the incentives law approved by interim President Adly Mansour. The law asserts that the syndicates agreed with the Ministry of Health on applying a new law, according to Al-Masry Al-Youm.

Ahmed Shousha, head of the Supreme Committee for Doctors’ Strikes, told Al-Masry Al-Youm on Tuesday that during the meeting with the new Minister of Health Adawy doctors refused article no. 14. However, the minster accepted the demand to implement the cadre law in hopes that it will achieve the “doctors’ ambitions on three stages.”

Shousha said they presented their demands to the Minister of Finance to know the final cost of the law, adding that if the minister does not agree to fund the law they will continue their strike, signaling that the meeting did not discuss how to end the strike.

Pharmacists, physicians and dentists have continued their open partial strike in hospitals and bodies affiliated to the Ministry of Health on Wednesday, for the fifth day in a row, in opposition to the adoption of an incentives law.

The strike includes all hospitals and institutions under the Ministry of Health, but it does not include hospitals belonging to the police and armed forces or children’s hospitals and emergency rooms.

More than 100,000 doctors, pharmacists, and veterinarians have conducted a partial strike in public hospitals since January 2014. The strike has been suspended for short periods, but resumed on Feb. 12 and was scheduled to conclude by the end of February. But, once again, doctors resumed the partial strike on March 8 when their demands remained unrecognized.

Doctors are objecting to the former Ministry of Health’s implementation of the newly adopted incentives project, which was implemented in place of a preferred bill designating salaries for medical professionals.

Former Minister of Health Maha Rabat was replaced last month by new minister Adel al-Adawy, but the strike has remained persistent despite the shuffle in ministry leadership.

Adawy visited medical organizations and establishments in early March, and during his visit he stated that the government is studying the possibility of amending the law regarding medical professionals’ salaries. He noted that he will negotiate with the General Medical Syndicate and other bodies that organized the strike, in an attempt to settle the dispute.

Nearly 80 percent of publicly employed dentists partook in the strike on Saturday in hospitals and clinics affiliated to the Ministry of Health, according to numbers provided to The Cairo Post by Mohamed Abdul Latif, a member of the Supeme Committee for the Doctors’ Strikes.

“We sat with the new minister on March 5 and informed him of our demands, and further demanded the end of abuse against doctors on strikes. We are now waiting to see how the new ministry will proceed,” Abdul Latif told The Cairo Post on Saturday.

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