Turkish and Japanese companies signed a deal to finance a new city hospital for Istanbul on Friday in a ceremony attended by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. İkitelli City Hospital, to be built in its namesake district, will be the latest in a string of new healthcare facilities across the country as part of country's reforms.
Rönesans Sağlık Yatırım of Turkey will cooperate with Japan's Sojitz on the project being built using the public-private partnership (PPP) model that helped realize a number of Turkey's megaprojects over the past few years, from highways to bridges.
The Japan Bank for International Corporation (JBIC) and Nippon Export and Investment Insurance (NEXI), along with a number of Japanese bankers, will contribute to the project that is expected to be completed in 36 months at a cost of about 203 billion Japanese yen ($1.82 billion).
The hospital, which will be built in 1.06 million square meters, will also provide employment for about 10,000 people. It will serve about 23 million people yearly, Rönesans officials said at the ceremony. Kamil Yanıkömeroğlu, CEO of Rönesans Sağlık Yatırım, said it would be one of the biggest hospitals in the world. "Our Japanese partner's investment in the hospital shows their confidence in Turkey's strong economy and Rönesans' global experience," he said. Yanıkömeroğlu said the hospital will be equipped with the most up-to-date Japanese medical technology and that it is the first "social infrastructure project" that JBIC and NEXI have invested in in Turkey.
JBIC CEO Tadashi Maeda said at the ceremony that they were proud of investing in an important project and the hospital was "a strategic threshold" in cooperation between Turkey and Japan. Maeda said that Istanbul, with two city hospitals - the other will be built in the Sancaktepe district - will boost health tourism revenues.
The 2,682-bed hospital is the latest in the country's steps to improve its health care system, which was crumbling before the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) came to power more than a decade ago.
The first city hospital opened in southern city of Mersin in February. Other hospitals were inaugurated in the central city of Yozgat and western cities of Balıkesir and Isparta. A modern hospital complex, the facility provides a wider array of public health services than an ordinary public hospital and is operated by the private sector. According to authorities, it introduces an efficient way to manage the health care system by putting the private sector in charge for a limited time. To ensure service quality, the government has adopted a public-private partnership model in the construction and operation of the complexes. The city hospitals will be leased to private companies, and the government will only pay fees for medical imaging, laboratories, security, maintenance and health care worker salaries.
Rising from a failing system clogged with an overwhelming influx of patients and where the poor were forced to stay until they paid for their treatment expenses, the hospitals also reflect how far Turkey has come. Turkey plans to build more than 30 city hospitals in 22 cities with a total capacity of at least 41,000 beds in the coming years. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who previously served as prime minister, pioneered the "city hospital" concept, which he has described as his "dream for 14 years."