Countless people have told me over the last couple of weeks to visit a doctor when I’m in the Netherlands for a couple of days next week. You see, since my visit to Uludere in May, I have red bumps on my legs, arms and shoulders, and they just won’t go away. But no, thank you: I prefer Turkish health care over Dutch.
I don’t necessarily say that medicine is practiced better in Turkey – well, at least not in this particular case. But organization-wise, the Netherlands is, well, plain hell. It would be impossible to get to see a specialist doctor within a week. You would have to go to your general practitioner first, then he or she would refer you to a hospital, where they would have time for you maybe in July. If you need to see another specialist, don’t count on seeing him or her before August. Which is holiday time, so make it September.
Tiny state clinic
With my bumps, I first went to the state hospital in south-eastern Sirnak. It was a weekend, so for my medical condition only the emergency doctor was available. I paid the fee that non-Turkish citizens have to pay and was immediately taken to the right doctor. After three minutes, it was my turn, and five minutes later I had a prescription and a nurse gave me the first of four injections. Over the next three days, I went to a tiny state clinic in the village where I was staying to get the next three injections. You just walk into the clinic, show your prescription, give the needle and medicine to the nurse and literally two minutes later, you’re outside again.
By the way, this was not the village of Gülyazi, where I stayed for eight days. Gülyazi hasn’t had a clinic for decades. Well, it has the building, but it’s empty: it has no doctor and no nurse. Sometimes a doctor or nurse is appointed, but they hardly ever stay longer than three months. There are many villages like that all over Turkey. For health care, the villagers of Gülyazi have to travel thirty kilometres, even in emergencies. So organisation-wise, there remains a lot to be done in Turkey too.
Since the medicine didn’t help enough, a week later I went to the university hospital in Diyarbakir. For free. On the weekend. I didn’t make an appointment, but I showed my arms and a security guy took me to the dermatologist on duty. Who gave a wrong diagnosis and medicine that didn’t help. Luckily, I mean: scabies is gross and nobody wants that, right?
Out of control
Yesterday, after more days of not seeing the bumps fade away, I went to the expensive heaven of a private hospital in Istanbul. At 10, I talked to the infection specialist, since I wanted to rule out any parasite infection. He said he wanted the dermatologist to see me too, and ten minutes later, I could visit him. They talked together about my case, which they found ‘very interesting’, and ordered a blood test. Ten minutes later, my blood sample was taken. They put ‘FAST!’ on the form, so everything could be handled within a day.
At 2.30, the results had arrived. The infection specialist came to see me at the lab, congratulated me with my excellent blood score and good health and took me to the dermatologist. Together, they concluded it was an allergic reaction out of control and prescribed new cream and new tablets.
The presented a bill which will be covered by my Dutch insurance – insjallah.
In general, Dutch people don’t run to a doctor too readily. That’s also why I waited quite a while before going to a hospital in Istanbul. We Dutch, we are taught that many health problems fix themselves. Yeah, true – if you wait, or are forced to wait, long enough. The efficiency and service of Turkish health care are totally flabbergasting for anybody used to the Dutch situation.
Wanna share any good or bad health care experiences in Turkey? I’d be interested to hear them, please use the comment section below!