The new project will facilitate the presence of an imam from the Directorate of Religious Affairs at the bedside of the dying in hospitals. Individuals of Jewish and Christian faiths will also be able to request this service, but this sort of spiritual support is not yet available for individuals of other faiths.
The Family and Social Policy Ministry is implementing the project, which is likely to spread to other provinces quickly once the pilot phase is over. As part of the new program, which the ministry calls “spiritual therapy,” Health Ministry offices will also make an effort to find friends or family members that a dying person might wish to see.
Metin Karakök, head of the Health Ministry office in Gaziantep, said their unit is open to calls from any part of the country. “We will support bedridden patients depending on their religion. We will get a priest if they are Christian, a rabbi if they are Jewish or an imam if they are Muslim, through the directorate or volunteer organizations.”
He said that imams, priests and rabbis who will serve in the project will be carefully chosen, adding that there will be attempts to generate a positive atmosphere in the support treatment center -- the unit that will be built for patients on life support -- to avoid anything that might lead to lower morale.
“We are planning 40 to 50-bed capacity centers for such patients. We are attempting to establish a center where we will hospitalize patients whose treatment at hospitals is over, but whose care at home is no longer possible.”
Ali Bakkal, the Gaziantep provincial mufti, said having a religious attendant at one's bedside is an important need that must be met. “Someone in that situation [of dying] needs most a person who will say beautiful things. There must be a religious representative to remind such patients of the transience of life and of this world. This person will comfort the patient and prepare them for death. This project answers a very important need.”