Egypt's doctors syndicate deputy head released after interrogation

Egypt's doctors syndicate deputy head released after interrogation
3 min read
04 December, 2016
A leading figure in Egypt's doctors' syndicate has been released on bail after claiming shortages of medical supplies in public hospitals meant doctors have had to reuse syringes and drips.
A doctor complained he was ordered to re-use syringes and IV drips [Universal Images]

The deputy head of Egypt's doctors' syndicate has been released on bail after hours of interrogation over earlier statements about a shortage of medical supplies.

Mona Mina, who paid 1,000 Egyptian Pounds ($55) in bail money, was summoned to appear before the prosecution after cases were filed against her by Egypt's health minister, the head of Cairo University, and lawyer Tarek Mahmoud.

She was accused of "disturbing security and social order, spreading panic among citizens, and defaming the state" after criticising poor hygiene practices in Egyptian state-run hospitals.

In a TV interview discussing the shortage of medical supplies resulting from a currency crisis amid a struggling economy, Mina said she received a complaint from a doctor that the public hospital he works for gave verbal orders to re-use syringes to rationalise the use of limited medical supplies.

"These include syringes and IV drips for example," she told privately owned al-Assema TV channel in November.

"If a patient needs two IV drips a day [they're told] to use only one. If a patient needs two syringes, they are to cover one and use it again."

Health ministry spokesman Khaled Megahed said in a phone interview with the same channel that Mina's statements were not backed by evidence and caused unnecessary panic among citizens. He added that the ministry would take legal action against her.

But Mina explained that her statements were taken out of context and were exaggerated.

"I only spoke about one complaint, and I did not claim that it included all public hospitals," she told Egyptian daily al-Masry al-Youm last month.

"I was only delivering his message, and I think the big fuss was made to cover up for the doctors' syndicate speaking out about the shortage of medical supplies."

Despite legal measures taken against her, the outspoken proponent of better wages and working conditions for doctors continued to warn against the worsening healthcare crisis and call for reform.

"I do not like prison, and I do not wish to be there, but I do not fear it," she said in a Facebook post on Wednesday.

"The shortage of medicines and medical supplies is a dangerous crisis, and using it to attempt to pass the evil idea of 'liberalising medicine prices' is even more dangerous.

"This is what we should firmly stand against."

Hundreds of prominent rights' advocates and doctors have signed a statement of solidarity with Mina.

Meanwhile, social media users showed solidarity using the Arabic-language hashtag "Support Mona Mina".

Translation: A country that lets its citizens die every day due to a lack of medicines and healthcare, pollution and poverty is the one that should face trial not Mona Mina.

Translation: You should pursue those who are responsible for the shortage of medicines and halting the import of medical supplies.