The Palestinian Medical Association said on Wednesday that its members will go on strike in protest at the Ministry of Health's decision to put the association on trial in order to halt strikes in government hospitals. A lawsuit was filed by the ministry in Ramallah on Tuesday; doctors have been on strike for almost 2 weeks in protest at a decision by Health Minister Jawad Awad to dismiss them. Awad said that the PMA's action endangers patients' lives and causes unnecessary complications for vulnerable people.
The Palestinian Supreme Court of Justice looked at the lawsuit on Wednesday with both parties represented.
"The association held a meeting with the Ministry of Health ten days ago," said PMA director Shawqi Sabha. "During the meeting the ministry agreed to postpone its decision to dismiss and redistribute the doctors until March and until we agree on a clear mechanism." However, he added, the ministry decided to take arbitrary measures against the doctors and transferred them to different hospitals regardless of where they live or the agreement. Dr. Sabha said that the association is determined to take more assertive and intensive action in the coming days to protest against the ministry's decision which it claims denies doctors their legitimate rights.
The PMA has called on all Palestinian doctors to join a protest sit-in outside the Supreme Court and to organise similar protests in other West Bank governorates during the court hearing.
Minister Awad issued a decision to dismiss public sector doctors four months ago, effective from the New Year. The decision means that doctors who work in government hospitals are not allowed to have their own private practice as well.