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Dr Manny's Notes

Is a Human Tragedy Unfolding in Egypt?

Egypt Protest Health

A child is carried near a poster depicting Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak as Adolf Hitler, amid opposition supporters in Tahrir Square in Cairo February 8, 2011. Thousands of protesters including first-timers gathered in Cairo's Tahrir Square from early on Tuesday and numbers built quickly as demonstrations meant to force out Mubarak entered their third week.REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

Much like every other American, I am watching the events unfolding in the Middle East with great concern. Egypt, as of late, has erupted into chaos after thousands of citizens have demanded change.

Just recently, I had a conversation with a dear friend who is an Egyptian doctor with very close ties to the country and with family members living in Cairo. I spoke to him to hear his thoughts on the situation and to express my concern for his family members still in Egypt.

According to the United Nations, as many as 300 people have died in the past week as citizens have led violent demonstrations against the 30-year reign of their president, Hosni Mubarak. Stock, bond and oil markets have been rocked by the unrest. Mubarak, for his part, has refused to step down until September, infuriating protesters even further.

We’re also seeing indications that other countries in the region might be following the same path. Thursday, for example, there are projections for possible demonstrations in Yemen. Jordan’s King Abdullah fired his prime minister yesterday. And in Algeria, protesters have already been killed during clashes with security forces.

My impression after speaking with my friend was that many Egyptians living in the United States understand why this revolution erupted. They know about the economic hardships many Egyptians have had over the years, and how expensive it is to live in Cairo, and how limited the opportunities are for young people.

One of the things in particular my friend told me was that his family wants change, same as the other Egyptians, but they still don’t know what that change is or who can bring that change to them. Another concern of his – which I echoed – had to do with the human tragedy of all of the events, which are getting more violent by the minute.

The health care system in Egypt is very fragile. For years, they have had many challenges insofar as hospitals, medical supplies and access to care. Last March, reports came out that citizens were being denied vital health care because the government owed hospitals more than 270 million dollars.

So, while the medical talent that Egypt has is great, the tools doctors have there to provide their talents with are very limited.

As this revolution turns more violent, the fear that many people have is that Egypt itself may not be able to handle the casualties, and even more human tragedy would evolve from the disintegration of an organized society.

Let us hope that Egypt, along with its neighboring nations, will be able to pull through this latest storm and bring about change that will finally allow its citizens to prosper and be safe.

Dr. Manny Alvarez serves as Fox News Channel's Senior Managing Editor for Health News. Prior to this position, Alvarez was a FNC medical contributor.
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