Egypt beats Snakes on a Plane with snakes (and owls) in the hospitals!
Snakes, cats and owls were a common site in Egypt's public hospitals. (Shutterstock/File)
Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb's visit to public hospitals last week, and what he expressed was surprise at the “bad health conditions” there, provoked a wave of criticism among doctors who said, “It’s not a new issue, and having cats inside the hospitals is very common.”
On Saturday, Mehleb visited the National Heart Institute (NHI) in the Imbaba destrict where he deplored the bad conditions and poor health care. He then decided to send officials from the health minister’s office to the NHI for one week.
A campaign entitled "We're not surprised" was launched by anonymous Facebook users. Its timeline is full of photos showing the deteriorating conditions in Egypt's public hospitals. Photos of snakes, owls and cats inside some hospitals are shown, as well as pictures of overflowing sewage and dirty broken toilets, among others.
The Facebook campaign went viral, reaching nearly 240,000 followers in just a few days.
The campaign also published footage of a surgery that was performed using the lights from doctors' mobile phones due to a power cut.
The Doctors' Syndicate released a press statement to comment on Mehleb's tour, saying that what he saw was nothing new. “Our voices got tired from talking about the bad conditions in public hospitals a long time ago and the government did not take any action to resolve it. This phenomenon will continue and the dismissal of the manager or the switching of doctors' offices will not change anything,” the statement read.
The Doctor’s Syndicate then raised a few questions geared toward Mehleb, wondering if he is satisfied with only taking tours or whether the government will actually make significant moves towards increasing the health budget to show its commitment to the Constitution.
“Will the government take real steps to curb the influence of nepotism and corruption that hamper any attempts at reform?” the statement read.
Responses varied, however, when patients at the NHI were asked about the conditions there. A group of people emphasized that they received better treatment and had noticed relatively better service since Mehleb's visit, while others complained that the staff treated them badly and that some doctors arrived late to the outpatient clinics.
Sultan, 58, is a cardiac catheterization patient who showed anger toward the administrative staff when asked to pay additional expenses, regardless of the fact that he was supposed to receive state-funded treatment. “The officials of the NHI are very professional in trying to get me to pay illegal and additional expenses,” he said sarcastically.
“I stand here and I can’t enter because a ticket costs LE5,” said a woman named Reda from the Minya province. A daily fee to enter the NHI has kept her from spending time with her son who entered the institute five days earlier to undergo open heart surgery. As a result, she has been sitting on the ground outside the NHI waiting to take her son home.
By Hend El-Behary