Doctors Syndicate general secretary and assistant resign in protest of ‘low ceiling’ for union freedoms
Photograph: بسمة فتحي
 

Mona Mina resigned as the Doctors Syndicate’s assistant secretary general in a statement issued on Tuesday night, pointing to a litany of hurdles that have stymied health reform and a general “low ceiling” for trade union freedoms as the reason for her decision.

Ihab Taher, the syndicate’s secretary general, will also be stepping down from his position on the syndicate’s steering committee in protest, according to Mina’s statement.

At the root of the sudden decision rests a number of what Mina asserted were violations of doctors’ rights, including the fact that a November 2015 court order to pay doctors benefits for contagion risks has gone unimplemented, the ratification of two pieces of legislation — universal health insurance law and clinical trials law — that the syndicate had staunchly opposed, and the recent firing and prison sentence handed down to a doctor for refusing to abandon his emergency room shift to respond to a prosecution summons.

Mina described her role at the head of the syndicate’s steering committee as “merely decorative,” adding that she would not accept “continuing to work in a meaningless position.”

The resignations are limited to positions on the steering committee, as Taher and Mina will remain on the Doctors Syndicate’s board.

Mina has been one of the most prominent figures in Egypt’s health sector. She was a founding member of the independent group Doctors Without Rights and has championed movements to secure citizens’ access to healthcare and guarantee doctors’ formal rights. 

Mina cast doubt on the future of the syndicate’s leadership in her Tuesday statement, saying that her colleagues who will take control of the body have “a different style, which we may not agree with and whose effectiveness we’re not convinced of but that some find to be more suitable for the current period.”

The Doctors Syndicate called for an urgent general assembly meeting on May 11 to discuss taking collective action in response to the prison sentence handed down to Mohamed Hassan, a 10th of Ramadan Health Insurance Hospital emergency room doctor. Hassan’s one year prison sentence — eligible to be suspended upon payment of LE5,000 bail — came in connection to charges of obstructing justice when he refused to respond to a prosecution summons until the end of his hospital shift. The general assembly failed to secure the minimum number of attendees to reach quorum.

*Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Mona Mina resigned from the position of deputy head of the Doctors Syndicate. It has been amended to reflect that Mina resigned as assistant secretary general of the syndicate.

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