Turkey spent 4.7 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) on health services in 2020, the lowest score among members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the European Union, Euronews Turkish service reported, citing official data.
According to the report, Turkey’s percentage is nearly half the OECD average of 8.8 percent.
Turkey’s health spending covered by the public budget accounts for 3.6 percent of GDP while the remaining 1.1 percent represents the part paid for by private health insurers and the patients themselves.
According to data from 2020 and 2019, the United States ranks first, spending 16.8 percent of its GDP on health services, followed by the United Kingdom, which spent 12.8 percent.
Germany spent 12.5 percent of its GDP on health services, while France and Canada allocated 12.4 and 11.6 percent, respectively.
The Turkish medical community is suffering from low wages, an excessive workload and violence from patients, all of which reached new heights during the coronavirus pandemic.
Attacks and threats against doctors and other medical personnel by patients or their relatives are frequent in Turkey. Doctors face violence, in some instances even death, for allegedly not giving sufficient or belated treatment to a person in Turkey’s overcrowded hospitals.
In the face of these problems, many healthcare professionals have resigned in recent years, with a number of them seeking to move abroad.
While 1,405 doctors left their jobs in Turkey to work abroad in 2021, 197 more emigrated in January alone, according to the Turkish Medical Association (TTB) figures. Local media reports say that thousands more are getting ready to leave as the Turkish government fails to meet their demands.
The doctors’ departures are a sad indictment of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who burnished his own reputation by expanding universal health care over his 20 years in power. But the strains of those overhauls wrought by Erdoğan, in addition to those brought by the pandemic and increasing inflation, have undermined the very professionals on whom the health system depends.