Politicians, academics and medical professionals attend event to commemorate Turkish medical day
Health Day, a celebration in Turkey of medicine and the medical profession each year on 14 March, was marked in Britain with a series of events.
Organised by the Union of Turkish Healthcare Professionals in Britain (ITSEB), this year’s event came in the form of a two-hour seminar event held on Tuesday in the House of Lords.
ITSEB chairman Ali Demirbağ in his opening remarks that the group had made significant progress in improving the living conditions of refugee children fleeing conflict through their visits to camps in Calais and Turkey, and by making donations.
He said: “We are a small group. We may not be able to change the world, but we were able to change those children’s lives.
“We are going to Turkey again in May to see how the children in the refugee camp is doing and how Turkey is coping with the task of hosting three million refugees.”
Addressing the audience of ITSEB affiliates and members of the public, he added: “Your input and your ideas are most valuable in this regard.”
The event was hosted by Baroness Elizabeth Berridge and chaired by two north London MPs: Catherine West, the MP for Hornsey & Wood Green; and Enfield Southgate MP David Burrowes.
Among the speakers were Ali Juma, a senior consultant plastic surgeon, who spoke about how children had been affected by war.
“It breaks your heart when you see a silent child,” he told the audience, “because they are so damaged they don’t know what to say. It is worse than seeing a child that is crying.”
Mr Juma said some refugee camps were akin to prisons where patients needed a permit to leave, a bureaucratic process that could take up to three days, and that there was an urgent need for the most simple medical equipment, like syringes and dressings.
Also speaking was consultant plastic surgeon Ertan Erel on the subject of budgetary strains in the NHS and Serap Akmal, who gave an talk on the current state of sex education within British schools.
An engaging talk was offered by Baykal Suruk, a member of the Alevi Community Centre in Dalston, who outlined the challenges his organisation faces.
The Alevi centre is largely run by volunteers and receives little funding, Mr Suruk said, and yet it intervenes in lots of internal family disputes as well as mental health and family issues.
The local council visited recently and realised that there was a lot more that it could do to integrate the centre into the wider community, he said, such as by hosting political advice surgeries there.
Also present to support the Medicine Day event were Haringey mayor Ali Gül Özbek and Fatih Topçu from the Turkish Consulate General.