General Abdel Fattah El Sisi of Egypt has directed the government to increase the allowance for medical professions by 75 %, i.e. LE 500 (about $30) that becomes only LE 200 (about $12.5) after deductions – on a monthly basis.
Sisi’s directives came during his meeting on Sunday 29/3/2020 with Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouli and the ministers of defense, higher education, finance, and health, as well as his adviser for health affairs.
The meeting addressed the progress made in precautionary measures taken to counter the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). In this regard, Sisi praised health workers, who lead the state’s efforts in the fight against coronavirus, Presidential Spokesman Bassam Rady said.
Mina Khalil, an Egyptian doctor, criticized the government’s fake pay rise for doctors on his Facebook account, saying: “So, this means that you end up raising doctors’ monthly pay by about LE200 (about $ 12.5) after deductions. Stop lying and deceiving people. We, doctors, can donate this LE200, so that you have no favors with us; yet we will continue to work for God’s sake as we are now doing. #DoctorsMonthlyPayRiseFake”. Dr. Khalil enclosed a photocopy of his itemized pay statement to support his post:
With Egypt facing the highly contagious COVID-19 virus, the circumstances healthcare workers have faced for years has taken on more complexity. At least 26 medical practitioners reportedly have contracted the virus, and the Doctors Syndicate has received complaints from a number of government hospitals inside and outside of Cairo regarding a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE), such as N95 masks and sterilization equipment. Healthcare workers are thus faced with the imperative to continue to treat patients, risking both their own personal wellbeing and a potential outbreak among a crucial labor force.
Amid Egyptian doctors’ lack of PPE, Egypt has ironically sent medical aid to Italy to fight the Covid-19 outbreak. On 22 March, an EgyptAir flight carrying medical supplies landed in the Italian Malpensa Airport to provide the Italian authority medical aid to fight the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, according to the Egyptian national newspaper al-Akhbar. The medical aid to Italy included more than one million medical face masks according to the Egyptian newspaper.
Also, amid surging demand for face masks and a subsequent shortage as panic surrounds the outbreak in China and across the world, China early February requested 145 million masks from Egypt, according to London-based The New Arab.
The medical sector in Egypt is suffering from government negligence, with respect to policies and financial allocations, as the doctors’ file is not a priority for the current regime.
Among the key problems of doctors in Egypt is the problem of their low wages, in addition to deterioration of the health system, lack of medical supplies and equipment, and poor working environment in government hospitals which affects doctors’ performance.
Despite the risks that they face, doctors are not offered adequate compensation when they contract an infectious disease. The Doctors Syndicate filed and won a lawsuit against the government before the Court of Administrative Justice in an attempt to raise the LE19 medical staff to receive per month as compensation for diseases they may catch while on duty to LE1,000.
The economic conditions experienced by Egypt after the floating of the pound pushed doctors to seek work abroad for obtaining higher wages, and this was behind their dropout from work in the Ministry of Health, which poses a great danger to the future of Egyptian hospitals.
It is to be mentioned that there are more than 450 hospitals and health units that have already closed in Upper Egypt and remote areas because of the absence of doctors. It is expected that this crisis will exacerbate due to the current government’s ineffective policies and its inability to implement the comprehensive health insurance project, amid Egypt’s declining economic situation.