Exploitation of foreign resident doctors worsened during COVID-19 pandemic in Turkey

The exploitation of foreign resident doctors in Turkey has worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic, as several of them were asked to pay for their medical bills when they were infected with the virus, the Istanbul Medical Chamber said. Foreign resident doctors are earning below the minimum wage and are not covered under the Social Security System (SGK) in Turkey, the chamber said on Feb. 26 during a press meeting.

Istanbul Medical Chamber on Feb. 26 held a press meeting, detailing the worsening problems of foreign resident doctors.

Duvar English

The problems of foreign doctors working in Turkey have deteriorated with the COVID-19 pandemic, said the board chairman of the Istanbul Medical Chamber (İTO).

Foreign resident doctors in Turkey are being “exploited” and earning a monthly wage of only 2,100 Turkish Liras on average (below the minimum wage), Dr. Pınar Saip said during a press conference on Feb. 26.

“Resident doctors are both getting a training in Turkey and giving a health service. During the pandemic, they have also taken care of COVID-19 patients and got infected themselves. But since they lack health benefits, they were required to cover their own health expenses,” daily Birgün quoted Saip as saying.

“The wages they are getting are not even enough to cover basic needs, such as rent and food. This is why we want their income to be taken to a level that will give a humane life,” she said.

Dr. Fikret Çalıkoğlu also made a statement on behalf of the İTO Assistant and Young Specialist Doctors, saying that many foreign resident doctors in Turkey “are being exploited.”

He said that under the current circumstances, hospitals are asking foreign medical doctors to pay the premiums themselves if they want to be integrated into Turkey's social security system. “As their income is very low already, many foreign resident doctors cannot pay for their own social security,” he said.

One of the foreign resident doctors working in Turkey is Dr. Orkhan Valiyev, who also took the stage during the press meeting. He said that more than 4,000 foreign resident doctors have been going through these problems in Turkey, demanding that they are registered under the Social Security System (SGK).

Another foreign resident doctor named Orkhan Farmanlı told about one of his colleague's experiences when he was infected with the COVID-19 disease. Farmanlı said that his colleague from Uzbekistan had been admitted to the hospital where he was working as a result of COVID-19 infection. When the Uzbek doctor's treatment ended, the hospital asked him to pay 7,000 liras, Farmanlı said.

“Think about it, you work for that hospital, but then you are pushed to cover your own expenses [even for COVID-19 infection]. I want you to think about this derogatory treatment,” Farmanlı said.