IX. Ambassadors' Conference "Towards 2023: National Health Values and Global Goals"

Prof. Dr. Recep Akdağ, Minister of Health of Turkey, attended the 9th Ambassadors' Conference organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at a hotel.  Prof. Dr. Recep Akdağ delivered a speech about national health values and global goals.

After stating that Turkey is now among developed countries in the field of health, Prof. Dr. Recep Akdağ stated that: "We are now at super league of healthcare, but our needs also change. Citizen satisfaction has increased substantially. We have set challenging goal of 80% for the satisfaction rate. Our need has drastically changed. We are facing new diseases which are totally the results of new life style. We both spend lots of money on and carry out new studies for the concept of health promotion that we call encouragement of health life until 2023. We decreased our disease burden for 4% between 2003-2013 in Turkey. There are few countries which succeeded this. We have enter a new period to decrease disease burden."

Prof. Dr. Recep Akdağ stressed that Health Transformation Program gained admission from international institutions and held example by stating that they started off the program on the basis of "human first" approach.

Minister Akdağ stated that we gained momentum in these areas in the framework of Health Transformation Program. After expressing that the success reached with Health Transformation Program in Turkey gained great acceptance all around the world, Minister Akdağ also stated that:

"Health services in Turkey are financially, physically and socially accessible and we spend 5,4 of Gross Domestic Product of Turkey for this. This includes both public and private expenses. This expense rate over GDP is lowest rate of OECD. Sometimes we say 'So much money is spent on health', but 'This is not the case in Turkey.' In Turkey, the share allocated within our capacity is lowest rate of OECD."

Minister Akdağ stated that Turkey reached beyond the predictions of World Health Organization (WHO) at health indicators, life expectancy at birth increased and neonatal mortality rate and mother mortality rate has substantially decreased.

Expressing that with these developments Turkey got included in developed countries in the field of health, Akdağ stated that, "WHO predicted in 1998 that life expectancy at birth in Turkey would be 75 in 2025. As of 2015, life expectancy at birth reached 78. It is the same case for neonatal death rate."

Satisfaction rate for healthcare services increased.

Akdağ indicated that health services satisfaction of the citizens increased every year, these rates doubled and the share of the people across the country who were satisfied with health system increased from 39,5% in 2003 to 72,3 in 2015.

He also stated that social and financial access had been increased, healthcare expenses were not a burden for the citizens anymore and out-of-pocket expenditures rate among total healthcare expenditures decreased from 19,8% in 2002 to 16.6% in 2015.

Minister Akdağ reminded that general health coverage was given to citizens, additional fees at private hospitals were limited, additional fees for burn, cancer, neonatal services, organ transplantation, congenital anomalies,dialysis and cardiovascular surgery was forbidden and out-of-pocket expenditures for medications were minimized.

Explaining that they placed emphasis on physical infrastructure for healthcare services and access to healthcare services increased substantially, Akdağ stated that the number of the intensive care unit beds increased from 2,200 in 2002 to 32,000 in 2015 and the number of the ambulances increased from 618 to 4,200 between the same dates. Akdağ, who stressed the correlation between the number of ambulances and the need for intensive care unit beds, said "For example, if you cannot dispatch an ambulance to a patient who has an cardiac arrest, your need for intensive care unit beds decreases."

Akdağ told that they showed real determination to increase the number of health personnel and the number of medical doctors increased from 92 thousands to 141 thousands.

"There are 138 bilateral cooperation agreement signed with 73 countries."

Akdağ also stated that Turkey gave support to many countries in order them to enhance health system and foreign health delegation was given trainings as well.

Akdağ said that National Medical Rescue Team (UMKE), the largest medical rescue team of Europe with 8 thousand volunteers was established. Akdağ mentioned that UMKE personnel were assigned in case of emergency and disaster situations, units were created to provide comprehensive healthcare services in line with the cross-border needs, hospitals in foreign countries were put into services.

Akdağ said Ministry of Health contributed global health with 138 bilateral cooperation agreement with 73 countries.

Minister Akdağ stressed that they worked on publicity of opportunity fields at health industry and said: "We have created new opportunity fields in terms of local manufacture in Turkey. We have provided opportunity for the countries that manufacture medicine medical equipment to visit Turkey and make investments here."

Expressing that studies were carried out for promotion of health tourism potential and health tourism at public hospitals, Akdağ shared those information:

"If a Turkish citizen have an accident or need intensive care in other countries, we have the capability to bring our citizen to Turkey with plain ambulance if patient transfer is possible. I want you all to know about this opportunity. When our citizens apply to Ministry of Health, do not hesitate if they really need transfer with plane ambulance. The Republic of Turkey has enough strength to realize all these."

Minister Akdağ gave information about the "City Hospitals" first of which be put into service in Mersin and stated that suite rooms would be available and VIP services would be provided.