Turkish health care workers protest mounting violence

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FILE – In this July 10, 2020, file photo, healthcare workers test patients in their cars at a drive-thru coronavirus testing site run by the University of Nevada Las Vegas School of Medicine and the Nevada National Guard in Las Vegas. Nevada this week became one of the last states to include rapid antigen tests in its coronavirus tallies. Experts say the change could provide a fuller picture of the pandemic but also upend metrics used to gauge how the virus is spreading. Health officials say they weren’t added earlier because their limited resources and staff had focused on vaccines and contact tracing confirmed cases.(AP Photo/John Locher, File)

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Health care professionals took to the streets in several Turkish cities on Thursday to protest mounting violence against them, a day after a cardiologist was killed by the son of a patient.

In Istanbul, police used pepper gas to disperse doctors and other health care workers who tried to march to the office of the local health authority to denounce the attack, Cumhuriyet newspaper and other media reported. The country’s health minister, meanwhile, was booed during the doctor’s funeral.

The cardiologist, Dr. Ekrem Karakaya, was shot dead at a hospital in the central city of Konya on Wednesday by a man who reportedly blamed the doctor for his mother’s death. The man then reportedly killed himself.

The shooting came amid increased attacks on health professionals in the country, mostly by patients or their relatives. At least 316 health care workers were victims of violence in 2021, according to the Health and Social Workers Union, Saglik-Sen.

Many health professionals are leaving Turkey in the hopes of finding better working conditions and quality of life, amid a cost-of-living crisis in Turkey where inflation is running at nearly 80%, according to the Turkish Medical Association.

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