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Non-revolving funds, part-time, and full night
The full-time law forced professors of medicine to choose between private practice and hospitals.
Think of an industrialist who throws away half of the functioning and vital machinery in his production facility. It does not make sense, does it? Let’s say that he did that for some reason and will bear the consequences. Assume that the facility produces fundamental machinery that new businesses require to open up factories and engage with production. The country has only a few of businesses producing such inputs. If the owners decide to throw away the ticking machinery, you cannot say “their business, their concern.” Right? Or assume that due to a decision of the economic management, a considerable proportion of the machinery becomes useless and dysfunctional. This affects the production of not only that company per se but also others. So, it is not wise to make a decision as such, right?
Of course machinery is not the only production input. There is labor, too. Just replace the “machinery” with “engineer, technician, foreman and skilled labor” in the absurd example given above and you have the same absurd case. You will probably think that this cannot happen in real world.
There are wide income gaps across countries and unfortunately these remain intact for many of them. Only a few among these succeeded in closing up the gap. One of the distinctive features of these countries is the high level of average educational attainment. Upon a more comprehensive analysis, they have a pluralistic system which ensures equality of opportunity so that all members of the society can access to high-quality education. High-quality education provides the skilled labor force to conduct R&D activities and integrate innovations into production processes on the one hand and to carry out high-technology production on the other.
Turkey is not in this group, unfortunately. It neither has made progress in narrowing down the income gap with rich countries, nor it has a well-educated raising population hopes for the future. Hearing the circumstances, one would assume that the country wraps the existing resources up in cotton wool, right? The most reasonable way of thinking would be to tap those resources as much as possible and preserve and attract the existing pool of skilled labor force. Especially if there are only a few scientists and academics, the right thing to do would be mobilizing all opportunities for their use so that they can train the doctors, engineers, physicians, chemists, sociologists, teachers, that is, the skilled labor and experts of the future.
Despite what would be expected, however, medical faculties in Turkey have lost a part of esteemed academics. I know professors of medicine, who have not even considered opening private practice. Their salary and the share they got from the revolving fund revenues sufficed, if not made them rich. Later however, revolving fund revenues were exhausted by some new regulations. This forced a part of the professors to open private practice. Then came the full-time law, forcing these professors to choose between private practice and hospitals. For a detailed debate you may refer to a series Sedat Ergin authored for Hürriyet.
What I gave here is only a brief summary. But please tell me, how these developments in Turkey’s health sector in the recent years is different from the “absurd” example above that sounds like a joke?
This commentary was published in Radikal daily on 03.08.2013