Commercialized public health: Are intensive care units full in Turkey?

Turkey's Ministry of Health has permitted private hospitals to increase the intensive care beds beyond their license. Istanbul Medical Chamber said, "People are fighting for their lives while hospital owners are after profit."
Tuesday, 01 December 2020 12:38

Turkey's Ministry of Health gave another good news to private hospitals that did everything they can to turn the pandemic into an opportunity, allowing them to increase intensive care beds beyond their license. The fact that Health Minister Fahrettin Koca is also the founder of Medipol Hospitals, which is part of a large health group is also worth mentioning in this context. 

After this permission from the Ministry, The Istanbul Medical Chamber made a statement titled "People are fighting for their lives while hospital owners are after profit. Are intensive care beds completely filled?" The statement says, "The last circular of the Ministry of Health serves private hospitals to work with the logic of a merchant, enabling the private hospital bosses to make more profit."

In the statement, the unreliability of the official numbers was put on the table.

“The COVID-19 Pandemic continues at full speed in the world and our country. The Ministry of Health announced that 168 citizens died yesterday, and the total loss of life increased to 12,840. According to the records of the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality Cemeteries Directorate, 211 people died in Istanbul alone due to "contagious diseases". We know that COVID-19-induced deaths in Turkey have actually reached 35 thousand (THIRTY-FIVE THOUSAND).”

At the beginning of the pandemic, private hospitals raised the red flag by saying "We will not take care of patients with these fees". After the Social Security Institution (SGK) increased the payments, they went after getting a share from the rising market of the Pandemic. Nowadays, they are marketing PCR tests that should actually be done for free. Moreover, they are trying to increase the number of beds in their hospitals without any license, using the pandemic as an excuse.

Minister of Health Fahrettin Koca is the Board Member and Vice-Chairman of Private Hospitals and Health Institutions Association (OHSAD), and also the owner of Medipol Hospitals. The OHSAD delegation met with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on November 4. On November 26, the Ministry of Health, with a letter sent to all the provinces, permitted private hospitals to increase the number of intensive care beds beyond their license.

The Medical Chamber asked some questions to Fahrettin Koca, the Health Minister.

“Has the pandemic completely gone out of control? Are existing intensive care beds insufficient? Is the situation this dire?”

The statement continued,
“If necessary, the number of intensive care beds can be increased of course, but increasing the number of beds without providing sufficient personnel support will only reduce the quality of the health service provided.”

The statement called on those responsible figures;

“The fight against the pandemic is won in the field, not in hospitals and intensive care units. A disease that does not have an effective treatment cannot be controlled by hospitalizing people, but by effective measures to prevent the spread of the pandemic. The current political rule in Turkey which is undoubtedly responsible for the failure of control of the pandemic is trying to make an unreal "success story" out of this period.

Incomplete, wrong, and inconsistent practices that have been observed until today must be stopped immediately. A new pandemic policy which is transparent, reliable, and open to the participation of all segments of society needs to be established urgently in the light of reason and science.”