"Dismissed health care workers must be allowed to work"

HDP MP Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu is a doctor and is one of the 15,000 health care professionals who have been dismissed from the civil service for political reasons. He calls for a change in Turkish health policy.

While the number of Covid-19 cases in Turkey is rising, experts criticize the inadequate protection measures. In view of the expected disaster, the first necessary step would be to reinstate the 15,000 health care workers and academics who were dismissed after the attempted coup in July 2016. Despite the urgent need for experienced staff, the government has only announced that 32,000 contracted health care personnel will be employed.  No step has been taken on the issue of those dismissed by emergency decrees.

HDP member of parliament Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu has been dealing with this question for years and points out the urgency caused by the Corona pandemic: "In Turkey there is a lack of personnel in the health sector anyway. 15,000 employees from the health sector, including doctors and emergency medical technicians, have been laid off. Now a pandemic is taking place and the Ministry of Health is acting far too slowly. Since 10 March, they have been in a stew and do not know how to react. There is one meeting after the other, but all this is coming too late and because there are no qualified staff, all the measures remain inadequate.

The whole world is looking for doctors and nurses

The HDP deputy believes that specialists could save many people from death: "Among those dismissed, there were many specialists for intensive treatment of adults and children. There were scientists who have been quoted in specialist journals worldwide and who are now, of necessity, unable to become active. In addition, some doctors are in prison. I know many people in prison who are experts in their fields. They might save many lives now, but instead they are serving unjust sentences.

Instead of thinking now about how these experts could be used, we are moving towards a precipice in the fight against the pandemic. The 15,000 health workers urgently need to be reinstated. In Spain, England, Germany and Norway, professionals who have been retired or have moved to other areas are being called upon to return. The US is inviting professionals from around the world and promising everything to help fight the pandemic in the country.

In our country, however, we are still waiting for 15,000 experienced professionals to be allowed to return to work. Some have an experience of twenty or thirty years. I am myself one of those laid-off doctors. I am a specialist in breast disease and have worked for 29 years. If I were not a politician, I would now be a doctor sent into compulsory retirement by emergency decree."

Health staff getting infected

"Many employees in the health sector have already been infected with the novel coronavirus. I have learned of several cases, but they are being concealed by the Ministry of Health. This is a very important topic, because there is a shortage of specialists anyway and doctors and specialists are at a high risk during this time", says Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu and reminds of the case of doctor Mustafa Ulaşlı:

"He is the only corona expert in Turkey and cannot contribute anything at all because he was dismissed by an emergency decree. He himself says that he does not need to be reinstated into the civil service and simply wants to work during this time because he is an expert in medical genetics and a virologist. A week ago I spoke to the Minister of Health and he agreed to call Mustafa Ulaşlı. But nothing has happened yet. This is a shame. An academic who could work on the development of a vaccine not only for Turkey but for the whole world remains inactive because he has been condemned to inactivity by decree".

Let the dismissed experts leave the country at least

The HDP MP demands that those dismissed from the public health sector for political reasons be at least be given an exit permit if they are not allowed to work in Turkey: "Dr. Mustafa Ulaşlı must at least be given a passport so that he can work for humanity in the US. One who has been dismissed by decree, gets no passport. If all these oppositionists, Kurds and Turks, are considered as lepers, they should at least be allowed to leave. According to our research, 91.2% of those affected want to leave the country anyway."