Health staff in Turkey demand April 17 to be declared day against violence
Thousands of health staff have held a nationwide protest for April 17 to be declared as “Day for Struggle against Violence in the Health Sector.”
The date is a reference to April 17, 2012, when a 17-year-old killed a doctor, Ersin Arslan, in the southeastern province of Gaziantep after holding him responsible for the death of his grandfather.
All Turkish health institutions held a moment of silence on April 17 between 8:00-8:30 a.m., remembering all the killed health officials at work.
Afterwards, chambers of medicine in various provinces held a press meeting in front of health institutions at 12:30 p.m.
Turkish Medical Association (TTB) head Prof. Dr. Sinan Adıyaman said despite all the association’s efforts, the authorities had not so far taken a “serious step” in terms of preventing violence against health workers.
“This is why, other than Arslan, Dr. Kamil Furtun, Dr. Aynur Dağdemir and Dr. Fikret Hacıosman have all been killed while on the job. Health institutions have many been times raided [by patient relatives], some of us have been taken into intensive care after being exposed to many patients’ relatives’ attacks, and many of us have narrowly escaped death,” said Adıyaman in a statement released on April 16 ahead of the planned protests.
“Let the April 17, which is the anniversary of the death of Dr. Ersin Arslan, be declared as the ‘Day of Struggle against Violence in the Health Sector’ and the Prevention of Violence in the Health Sector Law, which the TTB has prepared and submitted to all of parties in parliament, should be enacted immediately,” said Adıyaman.
Meanwhile, to raise awareness on violence against health staff, an association called “Bring an End to Violence in the Health Sector” (“Sağlıkta Şiddete Son Derneği” in Turkish) has been established. The president of the association, Ahmet Gürol Şağban, said that according to the data shared by the Health Ministry a health worker is exposed to violence every hour in Turkey.
“It is clear that the number of violence cases in the health sector in recent years in on the rise and violence-related news are out in the open every day from different parts of our country. According to data of the Health Ministry, a health worker is exposed to violence every hour,” said Şağban at a press conference on April 16.
Şağban also said that it was difficult for health staff to give “proper service” under these circumstances, and provincial chambers of medicines, unions and health staff were looking for a solution to tackle this issue.
Violence against healthcare personnel is an important problem in Turkey, with one study finding that 60,000 Turkish medical personnel have been subjected to violence in the last five years.
Unrealistic expectations of patients and their families from physicians and blaming physicians for their problems are one of the reasons of the high number of violence incidents against healthcare personnel.