FORMER MINISTER OF HEALTH AND TOURISM BÜLENT AKARCALI: ‘’ HEALTH SERVICES IN TURKEY MORE COMPREHENSIVE THAN UNITED STATES AND ENGLAND.’’…
We had a special interview with Former Health and Tourism Minister Bulent Akarcalı and Dr. Kalko about last case of the health sector in Turkey, health tourism and the tourism industry. Akarcalı makes stunning statements and he said that, “hotels and resorts in Turkey is giving special services at international standards. When we evaluate health services in terms of scope, the health service it provides to both its citizens and foreign citizens is ahead of the UK and USA.’’
How did you get into health tourism?
I have been the only one who was Ministry of Tourism after being Ministry of Health in Turkey. The connection with the subject is also directly in this way. During my ministry of tourism, I introduced the idea of health tourism. When I say health tourism, I am not talking about being treated in hospitals alone. I’m talking about healthy living. Especially I presented this idea for the older people to spend in Turkey in a healthier environment who live completely darkness during the winter months in the northern states.
This approach stems from this. Turkey’s hospital infrastructure at that time was not on the level of service that can give out of the country. The breakthroughs began after the 1990s. After the 2000s, as the breakthroughs progressed, the issue of health tourism initiated. Since 2010, I have involved in various activities related to health tourism.
A serious success was achieved in tourism. What is behind this success?
The most important issue underlying the success in tourism was the presence of a ministry and related institutions. In this way, in Turkey, tourism reached the level of international standards. This development was in every respect. In terms of building quality, service quality and price policy.
Now, when tourists come to Turkey from abroad he knows what will happen in a 5 star hotel. Currently, when called in Turkey 5-star, 3-star hotels or a private resort, it is known that on the standard in the world in the true sense. These world-class services are evident and there is no surprise at all.
Can we talk about this success in health tourism?
Turkey is a country with many advantages in terms of health tourism. Turkey appeals to a vast market. It stands out from all its competitors thanks to Turkish Airlines and other private airlines. These airlines have the opportunity to bring passengers to a center like Istanbul from all over the world. I searched for another reason. Turkish Airlines and three other airlines have a total of close to 500 aircraft. It’s a tremendous fleet. If their average seat capacity is 200, a hundred thousand seats will emerge. Assuming a plane flies twice a day; it turns out that it has the capacity to bring 100 thousand passengers from abroad every day, even if 100 thousand of them are domestic. This is a tremendous thing.
On the other hand, we had 40 embassies in Africa. We’re everywhere. Thus there is a tremendous demand from these countries in Turkey for health tourism. Also Middle East. For example, I went to Bartın two years ago. During this period, about 25 thousand people came to Bartın for health tourism from Iraq.
Another advantage is that the visa issue in Turkey. European countries, America and India the very difficult conditions for visa to go while almost no such conditions in Turkey.
What do you say about technology, equipment, service and physician success for hospital in Turkey?
In the first place I have to say this. With tourism investments in Turkey, was built between 1983-1990 yıllat the hotel was almost close to 1000. Therefore, the construction industry has learned how to make high quality and large buildings in Turkey. First you need to know how to build a building. Turkey were drop behind that topic in the past. The big Ankara hotel opposite the Parliament and the big Ephesus hotel in Izmir were built by the Germans. At that time, there were no Turkish firms to build such buildings. We learned very well how to build quality buildings and we achieved this in a very short time. This success was reflected in our hospitals. After this stage, we moved to the stage of how to equip hospitals with better devices. In this way, with” Leasing ‘methods, now the most modern technology,equipment and machinery being equip hospitals in Turkey. The life span of these devices is very long but their technological life is shorter. The device can operate for 20 years but after 5 years the new one appear. There are four or five well-known companies about that. It brings the latest technology machinery to Turkey, 3-4 years later these companies are giving away new ones to replace them. They overhaule equipment which receive from Turkey. Then send to other countries.
The improvement of Turkey’s health sector and growing the health sector enable with providing these facilities. Currently, Turkey’s health services which give their citizens and to foreigners ahead of England and the United States. England was once an example in this field.
When we look at the USA in the health sector, the Health Reform, which will include 50 million Americans, has caused great reactions. The mentality of people is ‘why should those who have no money for health care come out of our pockets?’ . However, at a meeting I attended in Brussels, a World Bank expert in the field of health explained the situation of the US in the health sector: ‘’ If the Congress can pass Barack Obama’s Health Care Reform law, maybe Five years later, America in bringing the level of health services to their citizens in all around their countries may come to today’s Turkey level.’’ As can be understood from this statement, we are very good in this field. In this respect, the involvement of professionals in this profession will provide assurance on the quality of the service we provide.
It is highly positive that people like Yusuf Kalko, who have proven themselves medically, have taken serious hands on this issue. Similar examples should develop and health tourism cannot be achieved by people who have commercial understanding but health tourism is to be carried out by people who are seriously focused on their profession and work like MR.Yusuf and this would have a positive reputation for Turkey.
Interview: Şükriye Özgül