Turkish gov’t ignores vital demands of pharmacists amid COVID-19 pandemic

As pharmacists in Turkey are under the spotlight after a 38-year-old pharmacist İsmail Durmuş died of COVID-19 in Istanbul, soL news interviewed with Cenap Sarıalioğlu, the Head of Istanbul Chamber of Pharmacists, on the current situation in the city and their demands to protect themselves from the rapidly spreading outbreak.
Monday, 13 April 2020 20:44

After the 38-year-old pharmacist, İsmail Durmuş, lost his life due to the COVID-19 pandemic last week in Istanbul, the number of pharmacists who died of novel coronavirus so far has risen to three in Turkey.

After this loss of lives, the demands and problems of pharmacists, who are among the riskiest groups likely to be affected by the pandemic, are once again on the agenda.

Stating that they have taken their own precautions without any additional support from the government so far, pharmacists say that Turkey’s Ministry of Health has not met their most fundamental demands for protective measures against COVID-19.

The death toll among pharmacists due to the disease might increase if the government authorities do not take necessary steps immediately, pharmacists also warn.


Cenap Sarıalioğlu, the Head of Istanbul Chamber of Pharmacists, told soL news the current situation in Istanbul and the demands of pharmacists to protect themselves from the rapidly spreading outbreak.

‘‘We are the riskiest occupational group under the threat of COVID-19 contagion after the hospital staff members. We don’t have even the slightest information about the health status of dozens of patients coming to pharmacies every day. We, and therefore our patients, are always at risk of contagion,’’ Sarıalioğlu noted.

Calling on citizens to not to go to pharmacies unless they really need important medicine, Cenap Sarıalioğlu said, ‘‘Please do not overcrowd the pharmacies. We ask this not only for pharmacists but also for the health of our patients.’’


Speaking about the preventive measures taken against the novel coronavirus in pharmacies, Cenap Sarıalioğlu, the Head of Istanbul Chamber of Pharmacists, stated that all the precautions taken so far are the works done by the pharmacists with their own resources and methods, such as allowing patients to enter pharmacies one by one, social distancing in the queue, or banning to use cash.

Sarıalioğlu, however, pointed out that the death of İsmail Durmuş revealed these measures were not sufficient to protect pharmacists, adding, ‘‘We have certain demands from the Ministry of Health. Regular disinfection of pharmacies, provision of protective equipment and hazmat suits for pharmacists and workers are some of our demands.’’

Noting that they could not receive a positive or negative response to their demands from the Ministry of Health so far, Sarıalioğlu said that they, as the pharmacists, cannot predict the duration of this process, and therefore necessary measures to protect both pharmacists and their patients from the COVID-19 outbreak must be taken in a timely manner so as to prevent the situation going from bad to worse.


There are currently 6 pharmacists and 14 pharmacy workers who have contracted the COVID-19 pandemic only in Istanbul, Cenap Sarıalioğlu, the Head of Istanbul Chamber of Pharmacists, informed, adding that they don’t have a risk of death.

‘‘As Istanbul Chamber of Pharmacists, we aided pharmacies by providing them protective equipment. Yet, we are talking about 20 thousand people. Therefore, only the Ministry can provide regular support to pharmacies. We demand the authorities take necessary protective measures as soon as possible for the lives of both pharmacies and their patients,’’ he concluded.

Meanwhile, the total number of coronavirus cases, announced by the government, in Turkey has increased to 61,049, while the death toll rose by 98 in the last 24 hours to 1,296 as of April 13.