Exploring health workforce preparedness for shocks in Turkey

Partners: Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, UK and Istanbul University, Turkey [opens new tab]


This study aims to strengthen local health system preparedness and responses to future shocks by improving health workforce management in Turkey.



On 6th February 2023, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit Turkey and Syria, followed by a second large earthquake and several aftershocks. The earthquakes hit the south-eastern region of Turkey and, according to the country’s disaster and emergency management authority, as of 12th February had killed more than 33,000 people and injured thousands more in both Turkey and Syria.


The earthquakes had a major effect on Turkey’s health system, damaging at least 15 hospitals and many other health facilities. This resulted in a shortage of medical care for injured and displaced populations as well as those with chronic illnesses (eg diabetes, cancer, heart disease, stroke, and chronic kidney disease). This plight was compounded by the loss of power, water, and communication systems.


This devastation put an extra burden on the health workforce as staff had to work long hours to treat injured people and manage the crisis. The situation was further exacerbated by pre-existing health workforce shortages and cases of staff burnout.


Research objectives

This study will take place in two districts in Malatya province, Turkey – one of the provinces most affected by the recent earthquakes. The study will assess the health system’s preparedness and response to shocks, using local-level health workforce management systems as a tracer for the wider health system. We will explore whether the Turkish health system has demonstrated absorption, adaptation, and transformation to support resilience in the face of the recent earthquake and how that has happened, identifying gaps in health system preparedness to shocks.


The specific objectives are:

  • Explore existing health workforce management policies and strategies in Turkey and understand how these strategies were developed, if they were adapted in response to previous shocks (eg earthquakes and COVID-19), and if those adaptations considered both male and female health workers.
  • Understand how those strategies were used during the recent earthquake response (eg availability, deployment, skill mix, motivation, support needed etc) at different levels of the health system in Turkey.
  • Explore the roles of international organisations and local NGOs in emergency preparedness and in shaping the health workforce response during the crisis, and examine factors supporting/hindering their work.
  • Evaluate the effects of these strategies on health workforce resilience during the earthquake response at the provincial, district and facility levels, including any gendered experiences.
  • Generate new knowledge on how to strengthen the existing health workforce management strategies and their implementation with a view to enhancing health system resilience to shocks.


Image: EU’s response to the earthquake in Türkiye and Syria
©European Union, 2023 (photographer: Lisa Hastert) via Flickr CC BY-ND 2.0 DEED [opens new tab]


"ReBUILD for Resilience brings together partners to share experiences, to discuss our contexts, and to create an appropriate model that helps build resilience in health systems across the country and beyond"

Sushil Baral, HERD International