Thousands of doctors gathered on Friday at their syndicate in downtown Cairo to attend an emergency assembly to discuss police assaults on doctors
Photos: Mai Shaheen
Egyptians doctors gather outside their syndicate
Free medical service in public hospitals until policemen stand trial
The events that led to the meeting began on 28 January 2016, when policemen allegedly assaulted two doctors at Cairo’s Matariya Hospital after one of the doctors refused to fake a medical report for one of the policemen
A general assembly convened by Egypt's Doctors Syndicate decided Friday to provide medical service to citizens for free in public hospitals starting 26 February as long as the policemen behind assaulting doctors at Matariya Hospital are not referred to court.
Hundreds of doctors waiting to enter the Doctors' Syndicate to attend the urgent general assembly meeting on Friday, 12 February 2016
The assembly was held in response to the 28 January attack where policemen allegedly assaulted two doctors at Cairo’s Matariya Hospital after one of the doctors refused to fake a medical report for one of the policemen.
The assault caused the Matariya Hospital staff to strike and shut down the hospital. However, the prosecutor-general ordered the doctors to end their strike and reopen the hospital. The doctors responded by opening the emergency room only.
On Thursday, Cairo prosecutors charged nine low-ranking policemen with “assaulting public officials” and “using violence” over the Matariya Hospital incident.
Protests will be organised starting 20 February in hospitals all over Egypt, and the syndicate has called on physicians operating private practices to show solidarity by either closing their clinics or providing free treatment on 19 March, Egypt's National Doctor Day.
The syndicate also demanded security be provided for medical facilities in Egypt, and that the prime minister issue a decision obliging the administration of medical facilities and police to report any attack on doctors or medical facilities, with such attacks being considered assaults on a governmental facility or a public official.
The assembly agreed to give doctors the right to strike if they or their facilities are attacked until their workplace is secured, and that anyone interfering with these measures be referred to a disciplinary committee.
The syndicate demanded that parliament issue legislation that penalises attacks against hospitals, including attacks by "security and Ministry of Interior personnel."
The assembly called for the installation of CCTV cameras in hospital ER rooms and corridors and to ban the entry of any armed person to any medical facility, with the exception of hospital security.
Earlier on Friday, the syndicate referred health minister Ahmed Emadto a disciplinary committee and demanded that he be sackedfor failing to protect and ensure the safety of doctors.
At least 4,000 doctors gathered in front of the syndicate headquarters in downtown Cairo on Friday morning to attend the general assembly meeting.
Traffic reached a standstill outside the syndicate on Qasr El-Aini Street as doctors entered the syndicate building.
Some held signs reading “where’s the law and the constitution?” and “immediate trial for those who humiliate doctors.”
As the number of attendees increased, security personnel and vehicles were stationed in the vicinity of the syndicate headquarters.