Turkey’s health system well prepared for crises

Ministry of Health, Turkey

From right: Mr Javier Menendez Bonilla, First Secretary, Head of Economic and Social Development Section, European Union Delegation to Turkey, Professor Recep Akdağ the Minister of Health of Turkey, Dr Maria Cristina Profili, WHO Representative in Turkey and Dr Gerald Rockenschaub, Regional Adviser, Disaster Preparedness and Response, WHO/ Europe

On 24 May 2011, a new WHO/Europe report, “Assessment of health systems’ crisis preparedness: Turkey”, was launched in Ankara by Professor Recep Akdağ, Minister of Health of Turkey, during a press conference attended by representatives of WHO/Europe and the European Commission (EC). The report found that Turkey’s health system was highly prepared for crises, and had experience from which other countries could learn. WHO/Europe staff presented the key findings; the report resulted from a project supported by the EC Directorate-General for Health and Consumers.

The report describes Turkey’s arrangements for crisis management, including the health system’s capacities. It aims to broaden the evidence base of best practices in health-system crisis preparedness, and makes recommendations. While the assessment focused mainly on the national level, it also took account of Turkey’s capacities and experience in supporting relief operations in several recent international humanitarian crises.

The press conference was held at the Etlik Training and Research Hospital, and included the presentation of a mobile emergency logistical platform by the Ministry of Health, featuring the latest technology and equipment, such as a mobile emergency field hospital with modern treatment and diagnostic facilities. Specially equipped ambulances (for the transport of multiple injured patients and overweight or handicapped patients, and the provision of neonatal care) and medical helicopters were also presented. Trained emergency personnel and search-and-rescue teams displayed their equipment.

Turkey has developed its system for disaster and emergency management using lessons learned, particularly from the devastating earthquake in 1999. Substantial investments were made to improve crisis-management capacities and the coordination structure throughout the country.

Turkey has a high level of political commitment to crisis preparedness, and its health system has developed extensive capacity to respond to health emergencies at the national and international levels. In preparing the health system to respond to disasters, the Ministry of Health included WHO recommendations and technical input.