Under the leadership of its Health Ministry, Turkey has extended a helping hand to other countries since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, providing aid to 160 countries. A total of 131 countries, including the United States, Germany, China, United Kingdom and Italy, received medical equipment support, while 11 countries benefited from vaccine donations.
Turkey has long advocated for global solidarity against the pandemic, which shows no sign of dwindling in its third year, and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has repeatedly called for equality in the distribution of vaccines.
In addition to the countries it provided assistance to, Turkey supplied aid to 14 international organizations working on alleviating the damage of the pandemic and curbing it, according to figures compiled by Anadolu Agency (AA). The Health Ministry, Ministry of National Defense, Interior Ministry and the Foreign Ministry were at the forefront of the supply of aid to 131 countries alongside the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA), the Turkish Red Crescent and other charities, with Spain, Russia, Norway, Nigeria, Mexico, Somalia and the aforementioned countries receiving resources. The Healthy Ministry also extended support to international bodies including the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), UNICEF, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) intergovernmental organization, the Central American Integration System (SICA), NATO and the Islamic Development Bank. Other international bodies benefiting from Turkish aid include the Africa-based Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the World Health Organization (WHO), the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), the African Union and the World Bank.
The aid was diverse, from protective bodysuits for health care personnel, to COVID-19 diagnosis kits, ventilators and cash. The country also constructed a 100-bed pandemic hospital in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) which opened in November 2020. The Turkish-Albanian Fier Friendship Hospital opened in Albania by Turkey in April 2021 was also among the investments Ankara made to help fight the pandemic in other countries. After China reported the first COVID-19 cases, Turkey was one of the first countries to provide medical assistance to the Asian country. The first aid packages were delivered to China on Jan. 31, 2020, with protective overalls, 93,500 medical masks, 500 medical protective glasses and 10,000 nonsterilized pieces of equipment.
Turkey also donated vaccines to 11 countries, including the TRNC, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Libya, Turkmenistan, Montenegro, Moldova, Senegal, Tunisia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and North Macedonia. The TRNC received the most vaccines, 543,330 doses, ahead of Uzbekistan which was given 200,000 doses. Following the donations, Albania, Kosovo, Palestine, Mauritania, Maldives, Namibia, Mongolia, Georgia, Lesotho, Nepal and Madagascar also requested Ankara's help. The donations mostly consisted of CoronaVac, an inactive vaccine developed by China's Sinovac, which was the first jab to be made available in Turkey last year.
The country is now in talks with nine countries for Phase 3 trials of Turkovac, its first domestically developed vaccine, which recently received emergency use approval. In the meantime, the Health Ministry is negotiating the mutual recognition of vaccine passes with 50 countries.
Turkey had raised its profile as a generous nation through its humanitarian efforts over the past two decades and often tops the list of countries providing the most aid to others on the global donor countries index.