Young doctors leave Egypt to pursue better-paying jobs abroad
WHO reveals that Egypt's doctor-to-population ratio became 7.09 per 10,000 people as doctors move abroad.
More than 11,500 Egyptian public health workers moved to the UK between the years 2019 and 2022, seeking better prospects abroad.
Over 4,300 government-employed Egyptian doctors submitted their resignations, leading to a shortage of qualified doctors in the country.
As such, Egypt's doctor-to-population ratio became 7.09 per 10,000 people, said The World Health Organization. To compare, the value is 35 in the United States, and double that in Sweden. Egypt still falls behind some poorer nations such as Algeria and Bolivia whose respective values are 17 and 10.
“I needed a place where I would wake up daily and care about nothing but supplying great medical care to my patients, and at the end of the month get paid enough to sustain a decent living,” said 34-year-old Egyptian Mohamed, who was offered a job in Britain in 2020.
Since the proposed salary was 40 times higher than what he was making at home, Mohamed jumped at the opportunity. He referred to practicing medicine in Egypt as hitting my head against a wall that never breaks” since he was getting paid almost $300, barely enough to scrape by.
It is mandatory in Egypt that medical graduates work in the government sector. Five years later, after they've become specialists, they have the ability to leave for better-paying jobs in the private sector.
After the pandemic hit and prices were soaring in value, the sum they were making just wasn't enough. This was still the case after Egyptian President Abdel Fatah El-Sisi ordered a 75 percent increase in monthly payments. This increase however did not keep pace with the economic crisis Egypt was facing.
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To compare, the exchange rate was around 15 pounds to the dollar a year ago, now surpassing 30 pounds.
“How do they expect a person to survive [on that salary]? That is barely my transportation and breakfast costs for a month,” said Ekram El Azzazy, 28, a doctor in Cairo who works three jobs to make ends meet.“Working seven days a week just to survive is really draining,” she lamented.
“I am willing to work at multiple places, one to learn and the other to barely make any money, but this all has to sustain a living,” El Azzazy added. “I need to eat.”
The dissatisfaction of doctors with their workplaces is associated with low wages, poor work environments, and the presence of overwhelming understaffed and under-resourced medical facilities.
Health Ministry spokesman Hossam Abdel-Ghaffar told The Post that only half the primary-care units throughout the country were "well-equipped." “For a time before, there was not enough care or attention paid to the primary-care units,” he said. Yet, he emphasized that the ministry plans to renovate these units by the end of next year.
Abdel-Ghaffar also stated that the state bears 99.9 percent of the costs of young doctors' medical school fees. As such, they should be willing to make sacrifices. Other doctors have expressed that their medical training had not been enough to pursue better jobs.
Ahmad Diaa, 34, an internal medicine resident in a Chicago hospital accepted a position as a general practitioner in a primary care unit in Saudi Arabia. After a year of saving, he then moved to the US to obtain his medical license.
Diaa had had experience working in a facility in Egypt, which unfortunately was in "depleted condition". He called this experience a horrible one as he did not receive proper medical training which enables him to be responsible for a primary-care unit. “We had no ultrasound device, no X-ray, no lab,” he explained.
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