The Minister of Health has reported that the total number of health personnel in the country is 1,061,635, including 165,363 doctors (1.9 per 1000 population according to OECD data), which is judged to be sufficient to manage the COVID-19 outbreak. Further measures to maintain or increase the availability of health workers include:
• Allowing medicine and dental residents to be repurposed for functions related to the COVID-19 response
• Hiring (temporary) extra lab technicians to work at Reference Laboratories across Turkey
• Accelerating the hiring process of those health professionals, such as nurses and health technicians that are hired as civil servants
• Extra payments are being made to health workers for three months (March - May 2020) who work in COVID-19 response related units
Existing health care staff (as well as staff in other sector) have been enlisted to support the health system response to COVID-19 through regular training sessions on dealing with communicable diseases, training on hand hygiene and special training on COVID-19 response protocols (eg. infectious diseases specialists and chest diseases specialists at every hospital conduct training for health professionals who deal with COVID-19). Moreover, every health facility has its own pandemic plan which specifies clear individual roles and responsibilities.
Contact tracing is undertaken by trained personnel in 4,600 teams who are working to track down possible COVID-19 cases all around Turkey.
Support for the health workforce engaged in the COVID-19 response include:
• Some provinces are providing free accommodation for health workers who do not wish to live in their usual household (to avoid potential infection of other household members) and/or who work in non-COVID-19 special units but which have particularly vulnerable patients, such as oncology and neonatal departments
• The Turkish Psychiatric Association has established a 7/24 hot-line (0850 532 66 76) for health professionals in order to provide psychosocial support.