Note for the press

Ministry of Health, Turkey

Professor Recep Akdağ, Minister of Health, Turkey introduces to Dr Maria Cristina Profili, WHO Representative in Turkey and to the media the air ambulance helicopters which are equipped with intensive care facilities for transportation of patients in emergency conditions

27 May 2011

A new report “Assessment of Health Systems' Crisis Preparedness - Turkey” says that Turkey has a high level of political commitment to crisis preparedness and a substantial capacity to respond to national and international disasters. The report, jointly published by the Ministry of Health of Turkey and the WHO Regional Office for Europe is supported by the European Commission Directorate General for Health and Consumers (DG Sanco).

A multidisciplinary team of national and international experts carried out the assessment in Turkey from 27 September to 7 October 2010 in cooperation with Government officials. The team included experts in generic disaster preparedness and response planning, hospital emergency preparedness planning, mass-casualty management, public health, communicable disease surveillance and response and International Health Regulations (IHR).

“Health systems are central to the overall cycle of emergency preparedness, risk prevention and mitigation, response and recovery”, said Ms Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe. “Strengthening health systems’ preparedness for crises and building the necessary core capacities for the International Health Regulations are complex tasks, and Turkey’s political commitment has been crucial to strengthening the stewardship role of the Ministry of Health to implement preparedness planning as a continuous process.”

“The many recent disasters worldwide emphasize the importance of giving a high priority to the preparedness of health systems for crises. In the light of the bitter lessons learnt and experience gained from the 1999 Marmara earthquake and its aftermath, Turkey has taken significant steps towards preparing the health system for disaster situations” said Professor Recep Akdağ, the Minister of Health of Turkey, “Following the financial and economic crisis, many countries face budget deficits and need to constrain public spending to achieve broader macroeconomic stability. Despite the crisis, Turkey`s political commitment to and investment in disaster preparedness and response has not lost momentum and Turkey has been able to sustain this investment as a result of rapid economic growth in the country.”

Ambassador Marc Pierini, Head of the European Union Delegation to Turkey commented on the report: "As new and re-emerging health security threats arise and are increasingly linked to sectors other than health alone, the European Union strategic framework on health security connects with many policies all contributing to the prevention of, preparedness for, and response to health security threats. At international level, the EU not only provides support to respond to immediate threats, but also reinforces capacities for preparedness and response to all sanitary hazards."
The report used a standardized assessment method with an all-hazard, multi-sector approach, adopting the WHO health systems' framework as the conceptual basis for describing and analysing the status of health systems preparedness for crises in Turkey and  identifying key recommendations. It also examines the risk prevention and mitigation initiatives in the country. While the main focus of the assessment is on the national level, some attention has been given to crisis management capacities at the regional and municipal level and to the links between the various levels of government.

Turkey has based its disaster and emergency management system on lessons learnt, especially from the devastating earthquakes, which occurred in 1999 and made substantial investments to improve its management and coordination structure throughout the country. Some of the key findings of the report include:

  • Turkey has a high level of political commitment to crisis preparedness and substantial capacity to respond to national and international disasters. The emergency response system is built on a strong legal framework; it is adequately staffed and well equipped.
  • Hospital capacity is extensive in terms of number of beds, availability of trained staff, and accessibility to equipment, contingency supplies and modern medical technology. The Emergency Medical Services system is well resourced with staff, ambulances, contingency, dispatch centres, etc. Every hospital is required to have a dedicated focal point for emergency preparedness, as well as an emergency response plan. A strategy for risk communication and public information during emergency situations exists.
  • From numerous international and national emergency response operations, Turkey has gathered valuable experience in delivering medical aid in disaster situations and due to its advanced disaster and emergency management system, the country could play a useful role in training and research related to emergency preparedness and disaster risk reduction at global level. Its expertise could be shared and used for joint capacity-building activities in the WHO European Region.

For more information, please contact:

Ms Viv Taylor Gee
Communications Adviser, WHO/Europe
Tel: +45 39 17 12 31,
Mobile: +45 22 72 36 91

Dr Gerald Rockenschaub,
Regional Adviser, Disaster Preparedness and Response
Tel: +45 3917 1551

Dr Maria Cristina Profili
WHO Representative/Head of Country Office in Turkey
Tel: +90 312 4541082