Egyptian doctors post photos of grim hospital conditions

A family sits on hospital beds surrounded by cats Image copyright Facebook page/ So that he's not surprised

Egypt's doctors have been anonymously sharing pictures of the conditions they work in - with stray animals and overflowing sewage on display - after the country's Prime Minister said he was "surprised" at the state of the country's run-down hospitals.

On Saturday, Egypt's Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab decided to pay surprise visits to two government-run hospitals. He was accompanied by TV cameras that showed him shouting at one hospital employee who was trying to quickly clear her desk of large bags. "This is not a market," he yelled at her. He reportedly went on to express "shock" at the run-down facilities and seemed to criticise doctors. "I respect surgeons but the poor woman who is outside complaining is the one who paid for your education, and I'm here to serve these poor people," he was heard saying.

Egyptian doctors, feeling they were wrongly blamed for the poor state of health services, decided to use social media to tell their side of the story. A Facebook page, which is quickly growing in popularity and run by an anonymous group - presumably because doctors fear the consequences of being openly critical of the authorities - started posting pictures of how bad conditions are inside hospitals.

The images often feature messy wards and stray animals, and the hundreds of pictures posted on the page from across the country are meant to document and expose what doctors have to work with.

Image copyright facebook/ so that he's not surprised
Image caption One doctor shared this image with the caption: "This is what was waiting for me in the new dental unit I was meant to start working at"
Image copyright facebook page/ so that he's not surprised
Image caption Translation: "Important notice: Please do not drink any water from the hospital as there is bacteria in the water that could lead to death"
Image copyright Facebook page/ so that he's not surprised
Image caption One doctor shared a picture of a blocked squat toilet
Image copyright facebook page/ so that he's not surprised
Image caption Stray cats also featured - including this one getting comfortable on a hospital bed
Image copyright facebook page/ so that he's not surprised
Image caption One picture even showed a goat wandering around a hospital...
Image copyright Facebook page/ So that he's not surprised
Image caption ... while others depicted animal droppings.
Image copyright Facebook page/ So that he's not surprised
Image caption Several images showed unsanitary and messy wards, although the context of this picture was unclear

There's a political context to the online campaign: doctors in Egypt have held several strikes in recent years demanding an increase in the state budget devoted to healthcare.

In response to the campaign, a spokesperson for the Egyptian Health Ministry said in a TV interview: "There are exaggerations in the campaign, not all images were taken recently and we're following up with the pictures that are being posted in order to verify the images."

Blog by Mai Noman

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