Turkey, where more and more doctors are moving abroad due to poor working conditions and acts of violence, has the fewest number of doctors in Europe when the populations of the countries are taken into consideration, the Euronews Turkish edition reported, citing Eurostat data.
The data from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, responsible for publishing high-quality Europe-wide statistics and indicators that enable comparisons between countries and regions, is from the year 2021.
When the number of doctors per 100,000 people is calculated, Turkey is at the bottom of the list with only 218 doctors for every 100,000 people.
Greece tops the list with 629 doctors per 100,000 people and is followed by Portugal, Austria, Norway and the Republic of Cyprus.
The Eurostat data also showed that a Turkish citizen makes an average of eight doctor visits in a year, while the frequency of doctor visits is the least in Sweden with 2.3 visits and most in Slovakia with 11.
Doctors in Turkey increasingly continue to leave the country as the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government fails to meet their demands for manageable workloads and increased security and pay.
Cases of physical violence against healthcare workers has become a daily occurrence across the country.
Statistics from the Turkish Medical Association (TTB) showed that a record number of 315 physicians applied for a certificate of good standing in advance of moving abroad in August.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan angered the medical community when he in March 2022 condemned an increasing number of Turkish doctors who were choosing to move to the private sector or go abroad for better job opportunities, saying they are free to go and that Turkey would find ways to make up for their loss.
After facing an angry reaction from the medical community, thousands of whose members took to the streets on the occasion of Medicine Day, marked every March 14 in Turkey, Erdoğan later praised the efforts of doctors, especially during the pandemic, and said, “Turkey is always in need of its doctors and is indebted to them.”
The doctors’ departures are a sad indictment of Erdoğan, who has burnished his own reputation by expanding universal health care over his 20 years in power. But the strains of the overhauls wrought by Erdoğan, in addition to those brought by the pandemic and increasing inflation, have undermined the very professionals on whom the health system depends.
There are frequent reports about long waiting periods before crucial surgeries due to the insufficient number of doctors in some hospitals.