The killing of four female doctors and the injury of 17 others in an unfortunate
accident on the Minya Cairo Road last week has launched a wave of popular anger on
social media, calling for the dismissal of the Egyptian Health Minister Hala Zayed.
A traffic accident occurred on Wednesday morning with a minibus bus carrying about
22 doctors from Minya Governorate to Cairo Governorate to attend a mandatory
training session which has recently been imposed by the Ministry of Health on
After the accident, the Egyptian Ministry of Health and Population issued a
statement mourning the victims of the accident.
In honour of the two victims, Zayed decided to include the parents of the two
deceased female doctors on the Hajj medical delegation for this year.
The way the Minister of Health dealt with the accident infuriated social media users
Its decision to include the parents of the two victims as part of the official Hajj
delegation was also ridiculed as one of the victims is Christian.
The Minister of Health and Population Hala Zayed said that she was following
updates on those who had been injured.
Supporters of the minister defended her by saying that she cannot predict the future,
and that it is not her fault what happened.
But those who demanded the minister be dismissed considered that there was no
reason to call these doctors from Minya, in the south of the country, to Cairo.
The correspondence and official papers that were leaked reveal that officials at the
Ministry ordered the female doctors to come to Cairo immediately, without any delay,
and they rejected all excuses not to do so.
The female doctors were supposed to receive training within the Women’s Health
Initiative Programme at the Training Institute in Cairo.
Although all the doctors are from Minya Governorate, the Ministry did not provide
the trainer in Minya, but rather instructed them to come to Cairo.
Those who demand the dismissal of the minister say that she insisted the doctors
come to Cairo for propaganda, so that she could take pictures with them, and include
this in her archive of achievements.
The orders were issued to the female doctors late, so they could not book the train
tickets, which is the relatively safer mode of transportation in Egypt.
Doctors had to hire a passenger mini-bus for this long-distance trip from Minya to
The accident took place south of Cairo near the 15th of May City, where a transport
truck ran over the doctors’ minibus.
The road network in Egypt is considered one of the worst road networks in the world.
The total number of car accidents on all roads in Egypt reached 5,220 in the first half
of 2019, compared to 4,426 accidents in the same period of 2018, an increase of 17.9
The Egyptian Member of Parliament for Minya Governorate, Hussein Ghaitah,
announced that he made an urgent statement directed against the Egyptian Minister
of Health, Hala Zayed, because of “her role in the accident of the death of four female
doctors and the injury of 17 others.”
The Doctors ’Syndicate announced that it had filed a lawsuit against the Ministry to
demand compensation for the victims of the accident.
The General Secretary of the Syndicate, Ehab Taher, said that they will file a
notification with the Public Prosecutor and the Administrative Prosecution to open a
criminal and administrative investigation into the incident against anyone who
issued arbitrary administrative orders or participated in threatening doctors to force
them to travel to attend the training course in Cairo, which put their lives at risk.
This incident caused rare criticism from the Egyptian media, loyal to the regime of
General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, against the government.
The anchor close to the regime of al-Sisi, Ahmed Moussa, while presenting the
programme “On My Responsibility,” broadcast on Sada Al-Balad TV channel on
Wednesday evening, said: “It was necessary for the Minister of Health to be present
with the families of the victims and the injured in the accident, and she should
apologise for that”.
He added that the Minister of Health issued a statement to mourn the victims of the
accident several minutes ago, though the accident occurred in the early morning,
asking: “Did the Minister move to follow up the situation of the victims and the
injured in the Karimat incident? What is more important to the Minister of Health
than the people who died?”
He described Zayed’s handling of the doctors’ minibus accident as unreasonable,
asking, “Did the Minister of Health [only find out] about the desert road accident
after 10 o’clock in the evening? She must go to the Nasser Institute to visit the injured
This is not the first time social media activists have called for the sacking of the
minister. There was a campaign against her several months ago because of her
criticism of “the obesity and niqabs of nurses and pharmacists.”