Medical professor urges Turkish health minister for pandemic transparency

A U.S.-based Turkish academic penned an open letter to Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca, urging more detail and transparency in Turkey’s coronavirus updates and cooperation with the country’s leading medical association.

Ergin Koçyıldırım, an assistant medical professor from Pittsburgh University’s Faculty of Medicine, pointed to multiple areas of concern regarding the ministry’s approach in dealing with the deadly pandemic, including the content and methods of disseminating information to the public, and the exclusion of the Turkish Medical Association (TBB) in fighting the pandemic.

“We don’t understand why the data is not being shared on a comprehensive website, and instead being confined to 280 characters via Twitter,” Turkish news site Duvar quoted Koçyıldırım as saying, who referred to the minister’s daily Twitter posts on the latest case numbers and deaths.

Turkey has no official website for reporting statistics on the pandemic, however, Koca has said the location of cases and number of recovered cases will be announced in the upcoming days.

It is very unfortunate that the TTB has been excluded in the attempt to control this pandemic, Koçyıldırım wrote.

“The immediate inclusion of TTB, which 80 percent of the country’s doctors are a member of and has very experienced committees, will both expedite the control of the illness and be perceived as an indication of respect for both doctors and that staff of the organisation,” he added.

The TTB has criticised the government for carrying out what it said were inadequate measures to stem the spread of COVID-19.

Koçyıldırım also said he looked into Koca’s claims that Turkey had sold domestic-made COVID-19 testing kits to the United States. During a parliamentary speech on March 19, Koca said Turkey had sold 500,000 of the test kits.

“I consulted on the matter with the Centre for Disease Control and the Food and Drug Administration. According to the information I obtained from them, there is no kit which has arrived from Turkey for the use of COVID-19 diagnosis in the United States,” the professor wrote.

Koçyıldırım went on to say that many Turkish doctors and scientists, who are based abroad remain concerned about the developments surrounding the pandemic in Turkey.

“Our concerns, all of these questions and our suggestions stem only and only from the love of our country,” he wrote.