Turkey marked March 14 Medicine Day (Doctor’s Day) this year with additional organizations and with scores of people posting messages, thanking all health workers for their courageous fight against the coronavirus pandemic for over a year.
In many provinces, special memorial services were held for the nearly 400 health workers who lost their lives during the COVID-19 fight.
One of them was at the Şehzadebaşı complex in the Fatih district of Istanbul, where the first medicine meeting took place 102 years ago, starting the tradition of marking March 14 Doctor’s Day in Turkey. Cevdet Erdöl, the head of University of Health Sciences, thanked all those health workers who died, stressing that they all “should be considered martyrs.”
From young to the elderly, people posted messages of gratitude to health workers on social media.
A website, dijitalmektup.lutfenplatformu.org, was launched for people who would like to write the medical staff messages of gratitude.
The first online letter was penned by the country’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Thanking them, Erdoğan started his letter, saying, “I express my gratitude to all health workers.”
This health organization, which has rescued people risking their lives throughout history, has been in the first flight in the combat against the coronavirus pandemic, Erdoğan added.
“They have worked hard to recover people’s health, sometimes by not going to their homes for weeks and hugging their beloveds,” he said.
“The sacrifice you have shown has a big part in Turkey’s coronavirus battle, which has been appreciated across the globe.”
Wishing mercy upon those who died in the COVID-19 fight, Erdoğan said, vowing, “We will be supporting and standing by you.”
The website will be open until April and all the online letters will be delivered to health workers across the country.
The first coronavirus case was announced on March 11, 2020 and in more than a year, some 387 health workers lost their lives in Turkey.
In another organization, students across the country wrote letters to health workers at the Gazi University Hospital in the capital Ankara.
Ali Yiğit Sönmez, one of the students, wrote a letter titled “Our Heroes” hailing the efforts of the health workers.
“You have dealt with the patients with your heart and soul, away from your family. We are with you. Never give up. You are in our hearts. One day the virus will end, and you will be reunited with your families. I love you very much,” the letter said.
Yiğit Çetin, another student, apologized to the healthcare professionals on behalf of those who are not complying with the pandemic rules.
“I will always follow your example throughout my life because you continue to fight without giving up,” Çetin said.
Another student drew a picture of them ending the pandemic altogether.
The history of Turkey’s Doctor’s Day dates back to 1827, when the Ottoman Sultan Mahmut II opened a health center in the Şehzadebaşı complex with the advice of the head physician of the empire.
The center’s establishment day, March 14, is considered Medicine Day in Turkey.
But the first celebration was held on March 14, 1919, in Istanbul. A then-medical student, Hikmet Boran, marched with his medical student friends to protest the occupation of Istanbul, starting the first Turkey’s Doctor’s Day celebrations, by foreign forces.
Between 1929 and 1937, Medicine Day was celebrated on May 12 every year, but the celebration day was moved to March 14 in 1976. Since 1976, the celebrations have been going on throughout the week of March 14.