From (David P.)@21:1/5 to All on Sat Feb 12 10:59:59 2022
Turkey’s Doctors Are Leaving, the Latest Casualty of Spiraling Inflation
By Carlotta Gall, Feb. 7, 2022, NYT
ISTANBUL — Anxiety rose after an assistant doctor died
last fall when she plowed her car into the back of a truck
after a long shift.
Then there were the growing cases of violence. An assistant
doctor abandoned his career after a patient stabbed him in
the stomach and hand. A pregnant nurse was hospitalized after
being kicked in the belly.
The worsening economy and soaring inflation, which has reduced
some doctors’ salaries close to the level of the minimum wage,
have brought many to a tipping point, driving them in growing
numbers to search for better opportunities abroad.
Their departures are a sad indictment of President Recep
Tayyip Erdogan, who burnished his own reputation by expanding
universal health care over his 18 years in power. It was one
of his signature achievements. For many of his supporters,
that action alone remains their main reason to support him.
But the strains of those overhauls wrought by Erdogan, in
addition to those brought by the pandemic — and now galloping
inflation — have undermined the very professionals on whom the
health system depends.
Doctors complain of a grinding workload, diminishing returns
for their work, a drastic loss of respect for the profession
under Mr. Erdogan, and an increase in physical violence from
their own patients.
More than 1,400 Turkish doctors left their posts to work abroad
last year, and 4,000 over the past decade, according to the
Turkish Medical Assn, the largest association of medical
professionals in the country. Many more are preparing applications
and have requested certificates of good standing from the
organization, officials said.
“This is a result of long-accumulating issues,” said Bulent
Kilic, a professor of public health at Dokuz Eylul University
in the western city of Izmir. “In the last 20 years, there have
been serious changes in the name of reform, and I think the
heavy workload in the pandemic was the final straw.”
For a long time, the changes that Erdogan introduced bore fruit.
Turkey has long prided itself on the quality of its medical
schools and its medical professionals, and in recent years, it
has developed a thriving private health industry catering to
thousands of international as well as Turkish patients. Fifteen
new large city hospitals were built to expand the health service
while access was broadened for the public.
The health minister recently praised the president’s foresight,
saying the system held up well during the worst days of the
pandemic and facilities were never overwhelmed.
But the system is no doubt stressed, leaving doctors feeling
overburdened and underpaid. The steady erosion of their income
and status has been too much for many doctors to bear.
“Three years ago, I would have said the salary was fair, but now
it is not,” said Dr. Furkan Cagri Koral, 26, a junior doctor who
left Turkey only two years after graduating. “Doctors in Turkey
are working at the level of slave labor considering the workload
and the risks they are taking.”