Egypt’s PM blames doctors for failure to handle corona pandemic

The Egyptian Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly has accused medics of failing to handle the coronavirus pandemic in Egypt. This came during his statements at a press conference following the meeting of the Supreme Committee to combat coronavirus.

Madbouly said that the lack of regularity of some hospital doctors had caused an increase in the number of deaths from coronavirus over the past few weeks. Madbouly explained that a number of doctors have been absent and the lack of regularity of medical staff carrying out their work has contributed towards this failure. He added that he directed the governors to take the necessary measures to address this.

Pro-regime Egyptian media attacked what it said was the failure of some doctors, and began to hold them responsible for the failure to tackle the coronavirus in Egypt. These statements were met by an angry response from a large segment of doctors and the medical staff in the country. Egyptian activists considered that the Egyptian regime began trying to find a reason justifying its failure to confront the coronavirus, and it appears that it has started to blame doctors.

Over the past months, Egyptian doctors have complained of a lack of means to prevent coronavirus, which has led to the infection of many doctors and the death of some. Several doctors have transmitted the infection to their family. Egyptian doctors confirmed that the rates of infection and deaths from coronavirus among doctors in Egypt are higher than those in the rest of the world. Doctors say they work in a very difficult environment, for long hours without holidays or enough rest.

A large number of doctors also complained, through more than one statement issued by the medical syndicate, of the lack of simple means of protection, such as masks, disinfectant and sterilising equipment and that some of them were buying it out of their own salaries and some of them did not find it available in pharmacies. Doctors confirmed that the Egyptian Ministry of Health did not provide tests for doctors or their families who showed symptoms of infection after the end of their shifts in quarantine hospitals.

In the face of the prime minister’s recent statement the medical syndicate published an official statement demanding that the prime minister apologise, indicating that it would cause “anger against doctors.” The syndicate said in its statement that “the prime minister ignored the real causes of deaths from the lack of capabilities, the lack of medical supplies and the severe deficit in intensive care [units],” which are “the real causes of the high numbers of deaths in the country.” Thousands of Egyptians expressed their solidarity with the doctors, thanked the medical crews through social media, and expressed their anger at the prime minister’s statements.

A spokesman for the Egyptian cabinet, Nader Saad, was forced to try to justify the prime minister’s statements. Saad stated that the prime minister meant in his speech to blame a few non-compliant medical staff, stressing that Egypt’s doctors are heroes and deserve the title of Egypt’s White Army. However, Saad repeated what Madbouly said that a “significant proportion of the lack of commitment of medical staff, and [their absence from] the workplace, has been monitored, resulting in inadequate medical services and causing at least two deaths.” He pointed out that “official complaints have been referred to the public prosecution for investigation.”

An angry doctor responded to Nader Saad’s statements by saying that in Egypt there are approximately 2,500 deaths officially registered. He added that there are only two cases that have been proven to be due to a doctor’s absence, a percentage of less than one per 1,000, and should therefore not be generalised to the rest of the doctors. He added that we cannot ask doctors to risk their life and the lives of his family while he can’t even find a suitable medical mask.