In Turkey, prescription medicines come in the original packaging from the pharmaceutical company. So if a person needs to take an antibiotic for 10 days, but it comes packaged in a 15-day pack, then that’s what they get and pay for. No additional labels are added except for a possible handwritten note with dosage information. In the States, except for a handful of exceptions, drugs usually are counted out to the specifics of the doctor’s prescription. They are repackaged, and re-labeled for the patient’s use. No wonder we have such long lines at the pharmacies in the U.S.!
In my experience, I find that doctors will more easily write a prescription here in Turkey for people they know, without having seen them as a patient. In the U.S., this is a HUGE no-no! I’m not saying it isn’t done. We all appreciate when a doctor will write a prescription and call it in for us after a telephone conversation. But it is rare in the U.S., that a doctor will risk his license for things like, “I have back pain. I need something stronger!” I was shocked when a doctor here, who works for Parliament, offered me a prescription for the “allergy” on my face. It was very kind to offer, but we weren’t in a medical setting, or even having a related conversation. The doctor had never seen me as a patient. The offer came “out of the blue”. Besides, I don’t have an allergy.
In Turkey, doctors and medical students have recently gone on strike to protest the Full Workday Law. “The Full Workday Law aimed to prohibit doctors working at public institutions from working at private practices of their own or other private institutions in addition to that. It also introduced a performance evaluation system for faculty members who work at university hospitals, matching the system currently in place at state hospitals.” http://www.worldbulletin.net/?aType=haber&ArticleID=72763. The performance-based evaluation system is also slated to tie university doctors’ salaries to the number of patients they treat. Doctors who are instructors at univeristies often have a very small income. They supplement their income by having a private practice as well. This law forces them to make a choice, private practice or public institution. I can only imagine how many instructors will have to leave their jobs. It has also forced doctors to take on more patients than they can handle. Lines of patients are forming, doctors are becoming over-worked.
According to Law Number 1219, foreign doctors are forbidden to work in Turkey, with very limited exceptions. In the U.S., foreign doctors can get a visa to work in particular settings until they get permanent residence status. They do not need to be a citizen. As of 2006, Turkey had 1.6 physicians per 1,000 people, two times less than the OECD average of 3.1. http://www.takingupresidence.com/turkey/employment/foreign-doctors.7.html. It just doens’t make sense to me. If you need more doctors, why not let more in? My understanding is that the ban also includes doctors that come to Turkey to teach. It seems to me that sharing and teaching of medical techniques and technology should have no boundaries! It’s not like I am suggesting that Turks allow lawyers to practice! Geesh!
Mental healthcare in Turkey is still relatively new. Psychologists and psychiatrists meet the same obstacles as they did in the US generations ago. People here sort of look at mental healthcare as taboo. They don’t talk about it. That being said, I do hear that more and more people are seeking out help for their children, even if not for themselves.
A few months ago, I met a couple of missionaries who were working on obtaining and providing heavy-duty wheelchairs to those in need here in Turkey. Wheel chairs are not something commonly seen in the streets. The sidewalks are so poorly made and often too high, that wheelchairs could never maneuver them. It’s great work that the couple are doing here. Now, if only standards could be enforced for the building of sidewalks! In this way, Turkey could really follow America’s lead.
And finally –
Being married to a Turkish citizen, I was quickly added to his health insurance plan. Nice right? No additional payments necessary. Now that doesn’t happen easily in the US!
That’s all for now!