Update: Doctors mobilize against police violations, vote for dismissal of health minister

The Doctors Syndicate has demanded the sacking of the Health Minister and his referral to the syndicate’s disciplinary committee, amid other decisions in response violations against doctors by police officers.

The syndicate demanded the minister’s sacking for failing to take appropriate measures to protect doctors from abuse, including physical assault.

The vote took place at an extraordinary general assembly meeting of the Doctors Syndicate on Friday, which was called mainly to decide on a response to ongoing violations, including a recent high-profile case in Matareya.

The syndicate said that 10,000 doctors turned up for the meeting in Cairo, with a quorum of 1,000 required for a vote on industrial action.

Syndicate members voted in favor of 18 decisions, including holding nationwide protests on February 20 in hospitals across Egypt.

The doctors demanded the referral of the officers implicated in the Matareya case to Criminal Court, and expressed support for the right of doctors to go on strike if they, or their medical facility, were subjected to an assault.

Doctors voted for the passing of a law punishing anyone found guilty of an attack on a hospital or its staff, stipulating that armed personnel should be banned from entering hospitals unless they are part of the security staff protecting facilities.

Doctors also called for the closure of all private practices on March 19, or else the dedication of that day to free checkups.

They further agreed that, as of February 27, all public hospitals should only provide free services.

In a statement distributed at the general assembly on Friday, the syndicate said that medical staff at various hospitals had been repeatedly subjected to violations, including by police officers.

The statement also objected to the Cabinet’s decision to form an authority to train doctors, a move that the syndicate says the Cabinet is not authorized to make. The syndicate said the decision was issued without consulting any relevant body, which is a violation of the constitution.

Several public figures and members of other syndicates attended the meeting in solidarity.

Late last month, two police officers assaulted two doctors at the Matareya Hospital after the doctors refused to falsify medical reports in their favor. The doctors were taken from the hospital and dragged into a microbus, handcuffed and taken to the Matareya Police Station.

Doctors Syndicate board member Mona Mina said that “thuggery” is not sufficient to describe the assaults committed by police officers against doctors at the Matareya Hospital last month. She added that the syndicate will escalate actions against this “injustice.”

The doctors filed a complaint against the police, which they later dropped in the face of intimidation from the Interior Ministry. The police officers have since made a counter complaint against the doctors, accusing them of assault.

On February 1, the Matareya Hospital was closed for two days due to reports of police intimidation and threats against two physicians.

Amid threats of escalating protests and a general strike by the Doctors Syndicate, the Ministry of Interior reportedly suspended eight policemen involved in the incident and referred them to internal investigations on Sunday, Abu Bakr Abdel Karim, the ministry’s official spokesperson, announced in a televised interview.


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