Hundreds of Egyptian doctors staged on Sunday Feb, 10th, 2008, a vigil in front of the People"s Assembly, the lower chamber of parliament, calling on government to approve a special cadre (financial degree) in order to keep up with the soaring living costs.
The doctors staged the vigil after their extra ordinary general assembly, held last week, gave them the right to hold a work strike in a way which is appropriate for their profession so that the government realizes their suffering.
The vigil included members of the board of the Doctors" Union, topped by the head doctor Hamdi Al-Sayyed, in addition to a number of members of governorate wide Doctors" Syndicates and members of parliament affiliated to the Muslim Brotherhood group.
They called for improving their salaries which are " so low and can"t keep up with the rising living costs".
The doctors held signs reading "12000 doctors suffer from low salaries", and "Stop such humiliation, the trainee doctor is paid 230 pounds while the specialist is paid 500 pounds after 20 years".
"Doctors without Rights" group that took part in the demonstration called for a real reform for the health system through giving sufficient salaries, pointing out that the incentives of the Ministry of Health are eroded by unjust evaluations.
Dr. Hamdi Al-Sayyed, the head doctor, held a sign that calls for making any doctor"s starting salary 1000 pounds. Al-Sayyed described the salaries as low and unsuitable for the doctors who are seen as the elite of the society. He said also that the doctor"s salary is only 300 pounds, making this profession lagging behind among other professions in the ladder of salaries.
The head doctor accused the government of breaking its commitments to doctors although it can afford the money required to pay the special cadre.
Sunday"s vigil wasn"t the first of its kind. The doctors have previously staged sit-ins and vigils in which they called for improving their low salaries and they even founded a group called "Doctors without Rights" to show their demands in an organized and clear manner.
In a related context, Dr. Hatem Al-Gabaly, the Health Minister, said that his ministry finalized with a Financial Ministry committee measures that will lead to carrying out huge rise in the salaries of the doctors. "These measures will lead to improving the salary, through adding incentives to the basic salary, to be more than 500 pounds, the demand of the doctors" general assembly", said the minister in press statements.
Such statements still lack a practical presence on the ground, adding fuel to the crisis between the Health Ministry and doctors over the special cadre.