Duvar English

The Health Ministry has updated its circular on supplementary payments given to healthcare personnel and staff from the directorate of religious affairs (Diyanet) who are responsible for handling the deceased’ bodies during the novel coronavirus outbreak.

According to Islamic tradition, a deceased person’s body is ritually washed and then wrapped in a simple white shroud before being buried. Certain personnel from Diyanet handle these procedures.

The Health Ministry determined that doctors (including assistants, lecturers, experts, associate professors and professors) will see up to a 50 percent increase in their coronavirus supplementary payments, whereas Diyanet personnel responsible for handling the bodies of the deceased will see a 100 percent increase in their supplementary payments, daily Sözcü reported on Sept. 25.

Pharmacists, technical service assistants and university lecturers will get an increase of between 15-89 percent in their supplementary payments. Diyanet personnel will be the only ones who will get the highest increase of 100 percent.

The new circular has caused reaction among healthcare staff, with Health Workers’ Union Sağlık-Sen members saying: “[Diyanet personnel] They are saying prayers and getting a performance bonus of 100 percent. What a disrespectful regulation this is against healthcare personnel.”

“What kind of risks imams are facing that they receive a 100 percentage increase [in bonus payments]? This is really shameful, an insult against those who are working at intensive care units,” they said.

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Fikret Şahin has similarly slammed the Health Ministry’s circular, saying: “With this new circular, we have once again seen what a crooked perspective the Health Ministry has with regards to healthcare personnel.”