To help foreign tourists find medical help in their own language, Turkey's Health Ministry has launched an "International Patient Support Unit" that offers its services in six different languages 24/7.
The unit helps tourists who need medical attention, as well as those who come to Turkey for medical treatment. A total of 28 translators are on put on standby in case of an emergency and help the medical stuff through teleconferencing.
The manager of the unit, Vicdan Akıncı said they offer services in English, German, French, Russia, Farsi and Arabic. "We help the patient and the doctors communicate with each other leaving no room for mistakes," he said.
"We usually get calls from tourists suffering from tick bites, heatstroke, dog bites and fever in children. Most of our calls come from Antalya. We have helped more than 30,000 tourists so far this year. We believe that the calls will increase during the summer months," Akıncı added.
The service has witnessed some extraordinary moments as translators help tourists with their problems. Earlier this year, a French tourist went into labor and the international patient support unit helped the new mother get to a hospital and guided her through the birth. "We stayed on the phone until we heard the first cry of the baby," Akıncı said.
However, sometimes bad news can come as well. "A Russian family was visiting Turkey and the father had a heart attack. We handled all the medical care as well as the transportation of the body back to their home country," Akıncı said.