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Health System in Turkey


The Anatolian geography, in which Turkey takes place has been the region’s health center since ancient times. Thermal springs, historical hospitals and Turkish baths are the traditional examples of health services in Turkey. During the last years of the Ottoman State and also the Republic of Turkey’s 80 years of accumulation, Turkish citizens and tourists coming to our country have been served with well trained doctors, modern hospitals and developed health services.

Thanks to the “Health Transformation Programme”, put into practice during the last nine years by taking advantage of all these experiences, great progress and breakthrough in the health services,  hich are to set the world an example, have been lived through in Turkey.


Health Transformation Programme

The main purpose of the Health Transformation Programme can be defined as “The provision of quality and sustainable health services accesible for everyone in an effective, quality and equitable manner.”

With the man-oriented ‘Health Transformation Programme’, Turkey has accomplished in eight years which developed countries could not accomplish in twenty years.


Article 60 of the Constitution states that “Everyone is entitled to social security and the State takes the necessary precautions to provide such security and institutes the essential organizations.” Moreover, according to Article 56 of the Constitution, it is decreed that “The State single handedly plans and regulates the provision of service by healthcare organizations with the purpose of enabling everyone to continue one’s life in physical and spiritual health and the realization of cooperation by increasing the savings and efficiency in man power and material power. The State performs this duty by availing itself of the healthcare organizations and social institutions in the public and private sector and supervising them.” The same Article provides that “General Health Insurance can be established”.

The main components of the Health Reform works during the 1990s were as follows:

1. The establishment of General Health Insurance by gathering the social security institutions under one roof,

2. The development of primary healthcare services within the frame of family practice,

3. The transformation of hospitals into autonomous healthcare undertaking,

4. The transformation of the Health Ministry into a structure by which healthcare services with priority in preventive healthcare services are planned and supervised.

As is seen, this period has been one during which important theoretical works have been undertaken but sufficient field could not be found for their implementation.


According to the World Health Organization, a country’s healthcare system must be designed in a way as to provide the necessary healthcare to everyone in high quality. This service must be effective, at bearable costs and in a socially acceptable fashion. It is suggested that bearing these factors in mind, each country develops its own unique healthcare system.

“112 Emergency Healthcare” services have started to be provided not only in cities, but also in villages, the number of station houses has been increased, our ambulances have been equipped with the latest technologies. Means of conveyance by air and sea have been added to the sysytem.

Preventive healthcare, maternal and infant health being in the first place, primary healthcare services have been strenghtened, the application of family practice, which is one of the key elments of the contemporary understanding of healthcare, has been launched and spread across the country. In eight years, our country has suceeded in gaining ground in infant mortality rates which developed countries have gained in thirty years. It has yielded the same success in maternal mortality rates and in eight years it made the progress OECD countries have made in maternal mortality in 23 years.

Thereby, the quality of healthcare services has increased, people’s access to healthcare services became easier and while the citizens’ satisfaction by healthcare services was %39 in 2003, it exceeded %80 in 2011.


Along with the newly established ones, the number of faculties of medicine reached 74 in 2010. 61

of these faculties provide medical education, while 53 of these faculties provide education in specialty in medicine. Moreover, 61 training and research hospitals subordinated to the Ministry of Health provide training in speciality in medicine. On the other hand, the number of faculties of dentistry has reached 31, while the number of faculties of pharmaceuticals has reached 19, both numbers including the newly established faculties. Furthermore, there are a total of 257 health related faculties and higher education institutions subordinated to the Council of Higher Education. On the other side, there are 283 vocational high schools of health subordinated to the Ministry of National Education.

Education in health is on a continuous rise.

While the number of the faculties of medicine was 21 during the academic years of 1986-1987, this number rose to 56 during the academic year of 2008 – 2009. While the number of students enrolled in the said faculties rose from 29.759 to 35.454 during the same period, the number of faculty members rose from 2.007 to 8.695. Accordingly, the number of students per academic staff declined from 14,8 to 3,9. With regard to the number of students per academic staff, it is seen that we are better off than many European countries.

The number of doctors is on a continuous rise

By the year 2010, there are a total of 111.211 doctors, 31.978 of them being practitioners, 58.258 of them being specialists and 20.975 of them still continuing their education in medical expertise. 63.622 of these doctors work at the Ministry of Health, 25.015 of them work in universities, while 22.574 of them work in the private sector.

While the number of the faculties of dentistry was eight for the 1983-1984 academic year, this number rose to 31 during the 2008-2009 academic year and 19 of these faculties provide ongoing education. The number of students attending the faculties of dentistry rose from 3.598 to 6.322 and the number of members of faculty rose from 504 to 1.355. While the number of students per academic staff was 7,1, this number declined to 6,4. There are 19.264 actively working orthodontologists in our country. 5.776 of those work in the Ministry of Health, while 900 of them work in the universities and 12.588 work in the private sector.