Turkish family physician: “We don’t want additional allowances but protective equipment”

Family physician Filiz Ünal from the Turkish Medical Association said the Health Ministry does not provide the family health centers with adequate protective equipment against the coronavirus pandemic.
Tuesday, 24 March 2020 18:35

As Turkey’s confirmed coronavirus cases rose to 1529, including total deaths of 37, on late March 23, Filiz Ünal, the head of the Family Medicine branch of the Turkish Medical Association, shared her views and observations regarding the current conditions of the family health centers where suspected patients firstly visit amidst the coronavirus outbreak. 

“We don’t want a health minister who provides additional allowances for the family health physicians, we don’t want to be punished with pay cuts when we have health problems,” Ünal said. Turkey’s Health Minister Fahrettin Koca announced on Monday that the health employees would be provided additional allowances during the fight against the outbreak, but some healthcare workers have also been infected with COVID-19. 

According to Ünal, however, eight physicians from some family health centers were tested positive for COVID-19 and had to leave working as they had to leave their job to their colleagues. “Doctors leave their work to their colleagues, yet we don’t know what to do if the next doctor is also tested positive for the coronavirus,” she said.   

Ünal said that four doctors from the same family health center were provided with only 40 surgical masks in a week, adding that this insufficient number of masks should be changed every four hours while they should be changed immediately in the event of suspected coronavirus cases. 

Doctor Ünal noted that the deficiency of equipment within the health ministry could not be compensated with outer resources, adding that the protective equipment is very expensive and the outer resources are not reliable. 

She underlined that the health ministry did not provide any 3M masks which are compulsory during the examination of the patients with high fever as they had to supply such masks with their own means.  


Ünal said that the physicians should be provided with masks, disinfectants and gloves in accordance with the standards of the World Health Organization, yet only a limited number of surgical masks and disinfectants have been sent to the family health centers.

Indicating to the corona-positive family physicians in Turkey, Ünal said that one of the physicians had to go to three different hospitals for fast tests, adding that this corona-positive physician only had a computed tomography scan in the absence of tests and required drugs. 


Ünal noted that suspected coronavirus patients were put in emergency rooms but they did not have enough room for more than one suspected case, adding that such patients should not be treated at such centers since the other patients could be infected at the same place. She said that some coronavirus patients were also waiting for treatment at the family health centers, increasing the spread of the outbreak among the other patients and the health personnel. 

Ünal concluded that the coronavirus-positive case must be recognized as a vocational disease for the health workers, and listed the following factors as the reasons for such a description while she called on the health ministry to take action:

* The deficiency of protective equipment

* The lack of protection of physicians from the coronavirus

* Delayed ambulance services due to the deficiency of health personnel   

* Unplanned implementations during the control of the outbreak