(19.04.2012) The President of the World Medical Association Dr. Jose Gomes do Amaral will join a demonstration of physicians in Istanbul, Turkey today (Thursday) in memory of a Turkish doctor who was stabbed to death in his office on Tuesday.
Dr. Ersin Arslan, a cardiothoracic surgeon from the southeastern province of Gaziantep, died after being stabbed by a relative of one of his patients. He was rushed into surgery by his colleagues but died shortly after the incident. His death is the latest in a catalogue of violence against health professionals in Turkey, often by patients and their families being treated in hospital and clinics.
Dr. Gomes do Amaral, who is in Istanbul attending a medical conference, said: ‘The WMA offers its sincere condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Dr Arslan. We express our solidarity and sympathy for the Turkish Medical Association for the sad loss of a physician.
‘Violence against health professionals is totally unacceptable, but is unfortunately a growing problem, not only in Turkey but across the world. Incidents of violence, which can range from verbal abuse to attacks leading to death and injury, have a devastating effect on the delivery of health care in hospitals and clinics, affecting health workers as well as patients and their families. We expect governments across the world to condemn unreservedly all incidents of violence against health workers and to work towards safer working environments.
‘The World Medical Association is now considering ways in which governments, health authorities and national medical associations can all help to tackle this growing epidemic of violence. At its council meeting in Prague next week we shall be debating further ideas for promoting a new global policy to protect health workers’.
The Turkish Doctors’ Union have announced that doctors across the country will go on strike for two days in protest at Dr. Arslan’s death to draw attention to the general lack of security at hospitals. In İstanbul alone 131 cases of serious insult to or attacks on doctors have been brought before the courts in the past year. In Turkey as a whole such cases are thought to number in the thousands.