Istanbul’s doctors call for urgent measures in week-long demonstrations

The Istanbul Chamber of Medicine (ITO) called for improvements to the treatment of Turkey’s healthcare professionals under pandemic conditions due to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak in the country, daily Cumhuriyet reported on Wednesday.

“Motivation is a serious need for healthcare workers,” ITO Chairwoman Pınar Saip said in a press release she read at the demonstration held on Tuesday.

ITO had planned a short, symbolic march from Turkey’s oldest medical school, the Çapa Faculty of Medicine in the Istanbul University, to the Haseki Research Hospital Polyclinics, but were stopped by the police. The doctors instead read out statements in front of the faculty building.

The demonstration by Istanbul’s doctors was part of a week-long series of actions planned by the Turkish Medical Association (TTB), where doctors, nurses and other healthcare staff will wear black ribbons to honour their 92 colleagues who died after contracting COVID-19 since March.

Among ITO’s demands is the designation of COVID-19 as a workplace hazard for medical staff, which will bestow them the right to compensation and benefits in case of serious injury or death.

“We expect the governing authorities to announce urgent, extensive and believable measures against the pandemic, a new pandemic budget, healthcare coordination and pandemic planning efforts,” ITO Board Member Güray Kılıç said.

Kılıç called for reduced working hours for medical personnel, which currently can exceed 16 hours for certain clinics - including contact tracing units.

Turkey's coronavirus figures for Sept. 15
Official coronavirus figures announced by the Turkish Health Ministry for Sept. 15. source: https://covid19.saglik.gov.tr/

 

Turkey has seen a total of 294,620 cases of COVID-19 since the first case was recorded in mid-March, and 7,186 people have died after contracting the novel coronavirus to date. According to official figures, which Health Minister Fahrettin Koca stopped announcing in a daily Twitter brief on Sept. 1, Turkey currently has 26,174 active cases, with 1,742 diagnoses between Monday and Tuesday alone.

Earlier this month, Ankara Chamber of Medicine (ATO) Secretary General Muharrem Baytemur had pointed to high counts of positive tests in several districts of the Turkish capital, suggesting a discrepancy with official nationwide figures.