Leading Turkish defense giant ASELSAN is shifting its biodefense research studies normally conducted in the defense sector to health care. The company is starting to develop kits and devices that will enable rapid detection of diseases caused by viruses and bacteria in primary health care facilities and aims to improve the medical industry in Turkey and reduce the dependence on foreign countries.
ASELSAN accelerated its efforts in healthcare after a cooperation protocol was inked between the Health Institutes of Turkey (TÜSEB) and ASELSAN in the field of domestic health biotechnology production.
ASELSAN Chairman Haluk Görgün stated that the company intends to be the leader in health technology, and that they aim to develop kits and devices for the detection of diseases caused by viruses, even in primary healthcare facilities.
Stressing that health technology is a sector with 85 percent foreign dependency and $2 billion in imports, Görgün said domestic producers seem to turn to low value-added products that do not require advanced technology.
He pointed out that the cost burden of medical devices is increasing with maintenance-repair agreements, consumables and software update costs.
"Defense and health are two important industries that can feed each other technologically," he added.
Therefore, Görgün underlined that health technology has been added to the company's field of activity with the notion that ASELSAN can develop medical devices and components locally and nationally with the technology it has developed in the defense field.
Highlighting that the priority in health technology is medical imaging systems, Görgün stated that the Health Ministry is currently working on a significant project related to the localization of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography, ultrasound and digital X-ray devices.
"In this project, which is very important in terms of the health industry, ASELSAN aims to offer its experience in the defense industry to Turkey by working side by side with the health industry ecosystem," he continued. "In order to prepare for this project, ASELSAN initiated studies to develop mobile digital X-rays and a domestic magnetic resonance imaging system with its own resources. The first examples of products are expected to be released in 2019."
Görgün said ASELSAN's capabilities in engineering, high-technology product development and quality management will be combined with the field expertise of relevant companies, and that innovative and internationally ambitious products will be produced through domestic opportunities.
Noting that similar collaborations will continue in the field of medical devices in Turkey, Görgün said research studies are progressing for biodetection, biodefense, and chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats defense (CBRN) systems in order to develop detection, diagnosis, analysis and simulation systems for biological defense, which is a critical area of civilian and military defense, with national means and to acquire the necessary technology in this context.
"These studies carried out for the defense industry will enable the development of kits and devices that allow rapid detection of some diseases caused by viruses and bacteria in primary health care facilities. In this way, we aim to improve the medical industry in Turkey and reduce the dependence on foreign countries," Görgün stressed.
He also stated that ASELSAN evaluated the opportunities of working together with competent and start-up companies operating in Turkey's health ecosystem, adding the first step was taken in this respect to cooperate in defibrillator devices.
"For this purpose, ASELSAN will work with Biosys Biomedical on intensive care ventilator devices by expanding their collaborations in the country," he concluded.
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