Major changes to Turkey’s health infrastructure in 2015
by Safure Cantürk
ISTANBULJan 03, 2015 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Safure Cantürk
Jan 03, 2015 12:00 am
The Ministry of Health has revealed new projects for the government's new health reforms in 2015.
Ministry Undersecretary Eyüp Gümüş said this year will see a transformation in healthcare infrastructure crowned with new projects such as "city hospitals," cancer research institutes, domestic production of drugs and vaccination, stem cell coordination center, new clinics and a campaign to fight obesity.
The first project to be launched will be TÜRKKÖK, or the Turkish Stem Cell Coordination Center, which will be the first large-scale bone marrow donor bank in the country. The center aims to speed up donations vital for terminal patients who have had to resort to donors abroad. It will also serve patients from Turkic countries and the Middle East.
Gümüş said that Turkey will also start the production of previously imported drugs, blood products and vaccinations. International pharmaceutical companies seeking to invest in Turkey for drug production will have to establish a partnership with Turkish firms and in exchange, they will be granted purchases for seven years by the state. Domestic production will save the government about $500 million for imported drugs, made of blood plasma, and will enable exports. Domestic production will also save Turkey $250 million every year for vaccination imports. Gümüş said they aimed to have Turkey producing at least half of the drugs it uses in the country within seven years.
Another project planned to be opened this year is the Institute of Cancer Research. It will be part of the institutes of health recently inaugurated to research and develop a local cure for several diseases. The institute will fund research on cancer across the country.
Also in 2015, a Quality Accreditation Institute will be established to certify the quality of hospitals in Turkey and their compliance with international standards. Hospitals not complying with standards will be made public.
New "city hospitals," sprawling complexes of groups of hospitals, will also be opened. Bilkent City Hospital will be opened within the year while construction of 17 other city hospitals across the country is expected to be completed this year. City hospitals, mainly built in suburbs, aim to improve health standards by significantly increasing hospital bed capacity and addressing the shortage of doctors. These large hospital complexes will provide services in a diverse range of medical specialties not available in a single hospital in many cities. To ensure the quality of services, the government has adopted a public-private partnership model in the construction and operation of the complexes. City hospitals will be leased to private companies, and the government will only pay fees for medical imaging, laboratories, security, maintenance and the salaries of healthcare workers.
In recent years, Turkey has taken steps to ameliorate the crumbling healthcare system. Hospitals run by the Ministry of Health and Social Security Fund (SGK), formerly known as the Social Insurance Fund, were merged to prevent overcrowding in the latter. The government also cut red tape in the treatment of patients with social security at teaching hospitals. Existing hospitals were modernized, and over 500 new hospitals opened all across Turkey.
As for the fight against obesity, the ministry will continue its campaign against sedentary lifestyles and rising obesity levels. Municipalities will be delivering bicycles in exchange for the construction of bicycle lanes. The ministry also plans to decrease the trans-fat level in foods and promote the consumption of whole wheat bread to improve public health.