Health care in Turkey

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Yedikule Surp Pırgiç Armenian Hospital, a hospital belongs to the minority
A hospital in İstanbul

Health care in Turkey used to be dominated by a centralized state system run by the Ministry of Health. In 2003 the governing Justice and Development Party introduced a sweeping health reform program aimed at increasing the ratio of private to state health provision and making health care available to a larger share of the population. Information from the Turkish Statistic Institute states that 76.3 billions of Turkish Liras are being spent in healthcare, with 79.6% of funding coming from the Social Security Institute and most of the remainder (15.4%) coming from out-of-pocket payments.[1] There are 27.954 medical instutions, one doctor for 587 people and 2.54 beds for 1000 people.[2]

Private healthcare has increased in Turkey in the last decade due to the long queues and personal service in state-run hospitals. Most private hospitals have contracts with various insurance companies so it is now possible to receive treatment that varies from the state. After rising competition from private hospitals, there has been an increase in the quality of state hospitals. At 7.6% of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2005, Turkey’s public expenditure on national health was below average than that of the developed countries, although the percentage has increased steadily since 2000. In the early 2000s, about 63 percent of health expenditures came from public sources. In 2006 there was one doctor for every 700 people, one nurse for every 580 people, and one hospital bed for every 380 people. The rural population is poorly served by the health-care system, which is much more developed in the western half of the country. Between 80 and 90 percent of the population, including self-employed workers, have health care provided by the national pension system, but the low quality of care encourages the use of private health providers in urban areas. Although the private health industry has grown rapidly since the 1990s, only about 2% of the population, mainly in urban areas, has private health insurance. In 2005 about 75 percent of private health expenditures were out-of-pocket rather than being covered by insurance.[3]

The most frequent causes of death, in order of frequency, are infectious and parasitic diseases, cancer, heart disease, and cerebrovascular diseases. Since the 1980s, the occurrence of measles, pertussis, typhoid fever, and diphtheria has decreased sharply because of improved availability of potable water. More than 80 percent of one-year-olds received inoculations against childhood diseases in 2004. Between 1980 and 2004, the infant mortality rate decreased by 65%. In 2007 an estimated 3,700 adults in Turkey were infected by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Reportedly, in the early 2000s sexual activity was the cause of 80-90% HIV cases, and drug abuse was the cause of 7 percent of cases. Some 260 new cases were reported in 2006. Commercial blood donation has been abolished in order to eliminate that cause of HIV transmission.[3]

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