Minister of Health Ahmed Emad referred Doctors Syndicate board member Ahmed Shawky to investigation on charges of enforcing the free healthcare decision.
The minister’s decision is illegal, Ihab Al-Taher, member of the senior syndicate board, told Daily News Egypt, referring to the Doctors Syndicate law.
“Executive institutions are not allowed to interfere in syndicates’ work. The complaining entity should refer back to the syndicate general board to undertake necessary procedures,” he said.
“The syndicate will respond to this action over the course of Emad’s investigation before the Primary Discipline Authority,” he added. The Health Ministry spokesperson could not be reached for comment.
Conflict between the Health Ministry and the Doctors Syndicate emerged recently and escalated to legal procedures following the alleged assault on two doctors at Matariya Teaching Hospital in late January.
The syndicate held a mass general assembly for doctors in mid-February in response to the incident, which drew thousands of doctors in a protest in downtown Cairo.
The syndicate previously referred Emad to a disciplinary committee in his capacity as syndicate member, as part of its assembly decisions.
Among the syndicate decisions, which stirred controversy and divisions among doctors over enforcing them, was the free-of-charge medical treatment, excluding the price of a check-up, in public hospitals, set at EGP 1.
The decision aims to appease patients and mitigate the pressure on families in finding adequate healthcare, which was thereby expected to decrease the incidence of assaults on doctors.
However, the Ministry of Health was angered by this decision, considering it a legal violation and a potential cause for a sharp decrease in the state budget.