Protest outside Parliament to Demand Increased Health Spending… Right to Health Committee & Doctors Without Rights demand increase in health spending to 10% of total public expenditure
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Wednesday 19 May 2010
The Committee for the Defense of the Right to Health, a coalition of activists and organizations including the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, and the Doctors Without Rights Committee, organized a protest yesterday, Thursday 18 May, in front of the People’s Assembly to protest the meager health allocations in the 2010-11 state budget. Health spending in the budget accounts for 4.9% of total public expenditure and 1.4% of the GDP. The protest was timed to coincide with the Assembly’s discussion of the budget.
Protesters asked the government to raise health spending to 10% of total public expenditure as a first step toward the target of 15% of public spending, the adequate level of public health spending. This target was set by African ministers of health, including the Egyptian government, in the Abuja Declaration of 2001. The Right to Health Committee said that despite the modest increase in health expenditure from LE16.5 billion to LE19.2 billion, as a percentage of public expenditure health spending is still very low. The committee proposed fair alternatives to fund the health sector through indirect taxes on polluting industries such as cement, steel and ceramic tile, as well as harmful substances such as nicotine and its derivatives.
Participants in the protest, which began at noon and lasted for three hours, reiterated that increasing health spending to 10% of public expenditure is the key to assuring quality health services, since it would allow a real increase in the pay of doctors and other medical workers. It would also permit the provision of necessary supplies at hospitals and medical centers and make it possible to maintain and modernize medical machinery and equipment. Protesters also urged MPs to stand with them in solidarity and stress the need to double the health allocations during parliamentary debates on the state budget.
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