The Turkish Medical Association (TTB) has announced that three young doctors died by suicide in different parts of Turkey in single day, calling for immediate measures to address the various problems faced by the country’s doctors.
The doctors who died by suicide on Wednesday worked in healthcare facilities or hospitals in the provinces of Adana, Adıyaman and Mersin.
The TTB said it finds unacceptable the pressure on doctors caused by economic problems, lack of security, a crushing workload and other factors, calling on all doctors to do their best to survive under the circumstances and to support their colleagues.
“We are not only saddened [by the deaths of the doctors]; we are also furious,” the TTB said in a statement.
Cases of physical violence against doctors and other healthcare workers has become a daily occurrence across the country.
The acts of violence and the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government’s failure to to meet their demands for manageable workloads, increased security and pay have led to an exodus of the doctors from Turkey.
Statistics from the TTB show 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.
Recent data from Eurostat showed Turkey has the fewest number of doctors in Europe when the populations of the countries are taken into consideration.
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, according to 2021 data.