World Refugee Day: WHO training enables Syrian doctors and nurses to provide health care in Turkey – Turkey

“We and the Turkish doctors are working like brothers and sisters.” These are the words of Muhammed Attab, 1 of more than 3 million Syrian refugees now living in Turkey – the country with the highest number of refugees in the world. A doctor who fled his home in Aleppo more than 2 years ago, Muhammad did not know whether by leaving northern Syria he was also abandoning his profession and the career he had built in his home country. However, thanks to a joint programme of the WHO Country Office in Turkey and the Turkish Ministry of Health, he has been able to begin a new chapter of his life and career, working in the Turkish national health system and providing care for his fellow Syrians in Turkey.

In 2016, the Turkish government enacted a law that allows Syrian health professionals to enter the workforce in the Turkish health system, with the aim of both integrating Syrian professionals into the health system and also ensuring that Syrian refugees can receive health care without encountering language or cultural barriers. In order to implement this law, the Public Health Institution of Turkey, associated with the Ministry of Health, and the WHO Country Office developed an adaptation training for Syrian health workers living Turkey – including doctors, nurses and midwives. The initiative is supported financially by the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Operations (ECHO).The training provides classroom and practical coursework, resulting in a certificate that authorizes Syrian health-care workers to practice in refugee health centres established in Turkey and to deliver health services to Syrian refugees.

Since the trainings began in November 2016, over 380 doctors and 360 nurses and midwives have received vocational competence certificates, allowing them to serve refugee populations in Turkey. Ultimately, they will staff the 260 refugee health centres and 600 refugee health units that the Ministry of Health has opened and will establish in…

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