Monday’s papers: NDP annual conference, more H1N1 victims, Abbasiya hospital employees protest

State-owned papers dedicate their main headlines to the second day of the seventh annual National Democratic Party (NDP) conference, at which the party’s leaders and members are gathering to outline their plan for the coming year.
Al-Gomhorriya's front-page headline reads: “The previous and upcoming elections overwhelm NDP conference discussions.”
The report quotes Safwat al-Sherif, the ruling party secretary-general, as saying, “We have been granted our party’s success from the Egyptian people, as documented in the ballot boxes in both the Shura Council and People’s Assembly elections.”
In his speech, al-Sherif pointed out that the reason behind the regime’s sweeping victory was its concern with selecting competent candidates and managing its electoral campaign, in contrast to opposition forces who put all their efforts into making false accusations against the party and boycotting elections.
In the same session, Ahmed Ezz, chairman of the planning and budget committee, said the party is preparing for the upcoming elections for the Shura Council and the People’s Assembly, hoping that the opposition will gain more seats next year due to their experience in the 2010 parliamentary elections.   
Al-Ahram, another state-owned paper, leads with a headline quoting Assistant Secretary-General and Chairman of the Policies Committee Gamal Mubarak as follows: “Health insurance is for every citizen and public hospitals should not be sold.”
According to Egypt’s best-selling paper, Mubarak junior emphasized the importance of preventing crimes related to the abuse of authority and wasting of public money.
On a different front, Al-Akhbar features a report of a road accident that took place yesterday in Upper Egypt.
It reports that eight American tourists died and 21 were injured when a tour bus collided with a truck. The Egyptian guide and driver were also wounded in the accident.
According to the state-owned paper, the bus was carrying 116 American tourists from Aswan to Abu Simbel temple. Mostafa al-Sayyed, governor of Aswan, said 20 injured tourists were flown immediately to Cairo’s Nasser Institute Hospital to receive treatment.
Al-Dostour, an independent paper, runs a small piece on the increasing number of swine and bird flu “victims."
According to the report, the total number of deaths attributed to the H1N1 virus in Daqahlia reached 16 after another two people died yesterday. The virus also caused the death of a 28-year-old woman at Al-Amiry Hospital in Port Said. In addition, of nine people tested in Mansoura five tested positive and were quarantined in hospital. The report also says that the avian flu claimed a 32-year-old man's life in Bahira as well as that of a young girl in Luxor.
Al-Dostour also publishes an article on a demonstration that took place on Sunday in front of Abbasiya Psychiatric Hospital. The hospital's doctors, nurses and patients' parents were protesting the hospital’s planned demolition and transfer.
The protestors called on Minister of Health Hatem al-Gabaly to refuse to allow to the hospital’s relocation to Badr City, some 50km outside the capital. The relocation is planned so that an exhibition and convention center can be built at the hospital's current location.
Abbasiya Psychiatric Hospital is the largest hospital in the Middle East region, treating 80,000 psychiatric patients. The building itself is 113 years old and was a royal palace before being converted under the British occupation.
Al-Dostour quotes Mostafa Fahmy, former manager of the hospital, as saying “We will not remain silent about the continual attempts to sell public hospitals, which the government has been organizing in order to increase its wealth.” Fahmy cites an attempt to sell the Conjunctivitis Hospital and to demolish al-Shatby and Luxor Hospitals.
Fahmy added that the government wants to expel patients from these hospitals because of the high real estate value, and said it wishes to build new investments “over patients’ dead bodies.”

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