The Egyptian Center for Human for Economic and Social Rights , Awladelard Foundation ( Children of Earth for Human Rights), Association for health and environmental development, New Woman Foundation in cooperation with the Freedoms Committee at the Press Syndicate held yesterday 19/7/2010 a press conference to announce a report on the problems of nurses in Egypt.
Amal Meselhy, nurse at Tanta public hospital , confirmed that nurses of Tanta hospital have sought their lost rights in every way possible. They tried protest stands and sit ins, but there was no response. Lack of nurses’ awareness of their rights weakens the ability to obtain these rights once they are threatened of expulsion or interrogation. Amal called on her colleagues to unite for their rights and not to give in for threats and terrorizing policies . She demanded the ministry of health to hold training sessions for nurses , to provide special hospitals for sick nurses and to increase infection allowance.
Om ElRizq Mohammed , nurse at Shebeen’s educational hospital ,Menoufia said that nurses suffer from many problems at the hospital and in spite of having organized a sit-in inside the hospital for 26 days, most of their demands were not fulfilled . She said that nurses tried to contact the Nursing Union Leader, but he did not respond. Om Elrizq demanded a satisfactory pension for nurses in proportion to the effort they exert ,working round the clock . She also called for lowering the retirement age for nurses to 55 years.
Om ElRizq declared that nurses were beaten up, ill treated and even sexually harassed by doctors. All this violation are a result of the absence of the system governing the management of hospitals. She asked for improving social, health care and status of nurses . She mentioned that health care fund ignores the sick nurse.
Samia Gad, Nursing Union Leader in Alexandria, asked for an increase in infection allowance, to disburse incentives with salaries by law ,salary increases in general because the salaries of nurses are very low. She called for increase of allowance of nature of work, the nurses’ right in treatment in case of illness, the establishment of nurseries in hospitals to care for nurses’ children during their long working hours.
She criticized not implementing resolutions of the minister of health in all departments , especially those resolutions regarding health insurance and nurses’ right to full care. She also stressed on the need to better the image of nurses in the Egyptian mentality and in the media.
Samia Ahmed, a rural leader from Assiout, said, “We have been working for 11 years ,we are affiliates to the National Council for Population and despite the hardships we encounter because of our work that requires grassroots contact like when we launch campaigns for family planning , abolishing female genital mutilation and bird and wine flu and so on. On July 1st, we were surprised that we were not allowed to sign in at work and we were told to go to the Directorate of Health Affairs in the city of Assiout. There we were forced to sign contracts of the fourth category , “subsidies”, which if were not available meant we are spared . Some rural leaders have contracts of first category , “potential permanent hire and raise” . We staged several sit-ins to claim our rights.Yesterday, we received expulsion letters and do not know what to do now.
Elhami Mirghani said that nurses in Egypt suffer from many problems, including the problems of temporary contracts, thus depriving them of all their rights, whether in recruitment, remuneration or permanent hiring. This drove nurses to resort to sit-ins and strikes. During 2008, nurses staged 13 protest : 8 strikes , sit-ins 3 and 2 protest stands. Low pay and incentive claims was the sole reason for 7 protests and was also one of the reasons for the outbreak of 3 protests .Penalties and arbitrary decisions were the only reason for a protest, one of two reasons in another protest. Assignment to tasks contrary to the job description of the nurse was the only reason for one protest, one of the reasons in another protest. Working hours were the only reason for one protest, one of the reasons in another protest.
During 2009, protests also continued in the nursing sector, where the nurses staged 12 protest : 6 strikes ,3 sit –ins. and 2 protest stands.
Reasons for the protests were : Low pay was the reason for 2 protests and one of the reasons in 2 others. Working hours were the sole reason of two protests. Arbitrary transfer was the only reason for 4 protests. Penalties and arbitrary decisions were the sole cause of one protest, and one of the reasons in the two protests. In addition , workers at Matrouh hospital protested because of a being assaulted by a patient family.
In the current year , nurses movement nurses increased to an unprecedented level. In the first six months of this year, strikes and protests occurred in several provinces, including Qaliubiya, Ismailia, Menoufia , Gharbia, Cairo, Giza. The scene of angels of mercy in protest stands became rather familiar. Unfortunately the gap is still wide between what nurses claim and the response . The ministry of health in the era of Hatem Gabali holds high the slogan “No hear .. No see.. No speak” and adopts the policy of denying the human element in the process of health care :doctors , nurses ,technicians, workers and others, their financial rights to be able to provide quality service to millions of patients.
Organizations participating in this conference stressed on the necessity of paying an allowance for nurse students at nursing schools commensurate with market prices and in proportion to the tasks they carry out in hospitals. As well, nurse salary should be redefined in the service year and afterwards so that the minimum pay complies with the consumed basket, which had been estimated by economic experts to be EGP 1200 . Organizations also stressed in this context on the importance of the government’s respect for judicial ruling for the National Council for wages to convene.
As for the variable wages (incentives and allowances) human rights institutions recommend the consolidation of allowances and incentives between the public sector hospitals, government hospitals and private sector. A fair amount commensurate with the efforts of nurses must be proposed and the differences between sectors of nursing must be reduced.
The institutions demanded to provide rooms and special facilities for nurses in hospitals and to improve the quality of health services for nurses. They affirmed the nurse right to visit clinics without being restricted by the number of times, but by the health condition of each nurse and also called for the provision of adequate medicine for nurses.
They stressed on the need to raise the amount of social aid paid by union of nursing so that it is proportionate with the costs of medical treatment .As well as raise the pension amount to match high prices, by seeking to increase the financial resources of the Union Pension Fund . Organizations refused to raise the retirement age to 65 years as stipulated in the new insurance law.
As for the policies of penalties , reductions and administrative arbitrariness , institutions recommend re-evaluation of mechanisms of penalties and reductions .
Institutes demanded the Egyptian Ministry of Health as well as the Ministries of Education to develop the educational system of nursing colleges and schools and to invest in training nurses.
They also stressed on the importance of strengthening the role of the union to be able to develop the nursing profession ,to defend interests and rights of the workers in the nursing profession and provide support and social services to union members.
Organizations pointed out the importance of changing the stereotypes rooted in the Egyptian mentality about nurses through joint campaigns between nurses and civil society organizations.