By Tamim Elyan
CAIRO: Doctors suspended their open-ended strike late Tuesday after a meeting with Prime Minister Essam Sharaf and Finance Minister Samir Radwan, who promised to meet their demands including raising the health budget.
The Higher Committee organizing the doctors’ strike called for its suspension after a delegation met with Sharaf, who said that the health budget my be doubled, wages will be restructured to achieve social justice and adequate security will be provided at hospitals.
“Sharaf did not commit himself to certain numbers but made strong promises that we see as sufficient to halt our strike,” said Ramy Fouad, member of the Higher Committee.
The PM did not, however, respond to doctors’ demands to remove Health Minister Ashraf Hatem.
The doctors’ list of demands included Hatem’s dismissal, raising the health budget from 3.5 percent to 15 percent of the national budget, increasing wages, and providing adequate security at hospitals.
The committee is set to meet Sunday with sub-committees and activists to decide whether they will end the strike or not.
Sharaf said job descriptions will be used as the basis for determining wages for each profession.
He also promised that no doctor will be penalized for participating in the strike.
Fouad said that a number of hospitals went on strike Wednesday because the committee was not able to inform everyone with its decision early enough.
Doctors organized a “successful” one-day strike on May 10 before going on an open-ended strike Tuesday according to the decisions of the emergency general assembly held on May 1 at the syndicate.
The strike was criticized by the head of the syndicate, Hamdy El-Sayyed.
Organizers said the syndicate and the ministry tried to thwart the strike by penalizing a number of participating doctors.