Economic Woes Force Turkish Health Professionals Abroad

Cover Photo:     “Emigre”  Turkish physicians gather in Dusseldorf, Germany


Turkish health professionals are leaving Turkey in hopes of finding better working conditions and quality of life, the Turkish Medical Association has claimed, amid a soaring inflation figure of almost 80%, reports Associated Press.


Turkish health professionals are leaving Turkey in hopes of finding better working conditions and quality of life, the Turkish Medical Association has claimed, amid a soaring inflation figure of almost 80%.


Hundreds of doctors have left their jobs in Turkey to seek opportunities abroad.


In 2021, more than 1,000 doctors sought “good standing” documents from the Turkish Medical Association to be able to practice medicine outside Turkey.  According Turkish Medical Association the figure stands around 1K for the first six months of 2022.


Dr. Tahsin Cinar, an anaesthetist at a university hospital, is only one of the thousands that have become increasingly chafed under the rising demands being a medical professional requires in Turkey. Cinar said that being a doctor has become one of the difficult jobs in Turkey, as doctors earn half of the poverty line, which is estimated to be around 20 thousand liras (around 1175 USD), according to a report published by labor union Turk-Is.


Cinar added that some of his friends were taking language courses in German to work there.


He believed that there is a huge brain drain underway in Turkey.


In March, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that doctors who wanted to go abroad can “go ahead and leave.” Later, he softened his tone and said he believed doctors who went abroad will return home soon as Turkey promised a “bright future.”


Violence against health care professionals has also been on the rise in Turkey just as medical workers are dealing with burnout after living through two years of the coronavirus pandemic.


Many are waiting for legislation to bring harsher punishments to those who assault medical professionals during line of duty, which Erdogan promised they would introduce in a March speech.


Dr. Burak Acikgoz, a Turkish doctor who emigrated to Sweden was not one of those convinced enough to stay by the discourse of the government.


Acikgoz moved to Sweden three years ago after his child was born in order to secure a brighter future for them. After hearing he would be a father, Acikgoz said that he had to make a decision and the most suitable one was to move abroad, to Sweden.  Many professionals, too, are leaving Turkey to provide their offspring with better education, as Turkish schools both state and private are forced to increase the share of religion and “ethics” classes to Islamize then nation.


Dr. Onur Naci Karahanci of the Turkish Medical Association (TTB) argued that European countries enticed doctors with a better quality of life to secure the brightest and “cheapest” doctors from other parts of the world.


Economist and researcher Enes Ozkan of Istanbul University said that the soaring inflation in Turkey is “directly related to brain drain.” Though, studies conducted among professionals migrating abroad cite political oppression and exclusionary policies as  important reasons.


Brain drain is the term used when essential professionals from one country, typically an impoverished one, choose to leave their country to pursue their professions under better economical and democratic means.


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Ozkan explained that high levels of inflation in Turkey are created by the mismanagement of the economy by Erdogan’s government and that brain drain is not being experienced by other countries which are suffering from inflationary economies.


Annual inflation in Turkey hit 78.62% in June, the highest rate since 1998, according to official data released Monday.


The Turkish Statistical Institute, or TurkStat, released the monthly figures as Turkey is experiencing a deepening cost-of-living crisis.


Consumer prices rose by 4.95% on a monthly basis, the institute reported.


Erdogan has insisted that high borrowing costs cause inflation — a position that contradicts established economic thinking — and advocates lowering interest rates to boost growth and exports.


Physicians are also finding poor working conditions in Turkey’s once booming private hospitals and clinics, as declining incomes  reduce patients and private healthcare insurance becomes too expensive for the middle class to afford.


In the lats two weeks, several leading Turkish public health experts warned the nation about soaring Covid-19 cases with some predicting another nation-wide outbreak after Eid or latest by winter.  If the prophecy comes true, Turkey’s long-suffering physicians will also add burnout and death from patient contact to their list of woes.


With contributions from PATurkey staff


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Published By: Atilla Yeşilada

GlobalSource Partners’ Turkey Country Analyst Atilla Yesilada is the country’s leading political analyst and commentator. He is known throughout the finance and political science world for his thorough and outspoken coverage of Turkey’s political and financial developments. In addition to his extensive writing schedule, he is often called upon to provide his political expertise on major radio and television channels. Based in Istanbul, Atilla is co-founder of the information platform Istanbul Analytics and is one of GlobalSource’s local partners in Turkey. In addition to his consulting work and speaking engagements throughout the US, Europe and the Middle East, he writes regular columns for Turkey’s leading financial websites VATAN and and has contributed to the financial daily Referans and the liberal daily Radikal.