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Often when visiting a foreign country, health problems can seem daunting. Turkey however has a lot more to offer, state system and private health care are at a level much higher than that of other up and coming countries.

In fact Turkey has some of the most well-known and respected doctors and staff, particularly at the university hospitals. There are continuing plans to improve the level of standards and services in state hospitals to meet that of other popular European countries.

Private Healthcare has increased considerably in Turkey in the last decade owing to the limited amount of state run hospitals. Care standards in private hospitals are usually on a par with international standards in terms of expertise and equipment. Most private hospitals have contracts with various insurance companies so it is important to make sure you have good health insurance.

The main tourist areas are well served with hospitals some of which have direct agreements with BUPA and other similar international heath insurance companies. There are a considerable number of private clinics in the tourist areas of Bodrum, Antalya and Marmaris. In fact the Antalya area of Turkey has no less than 50 private medical centres employing in excess of 2500 doctors and medical staff.

Pharmacies are open from 9.00 to 19.00hrs from Monday to Saturday and there is usually an emergency pharmacy in each area.

The social security system in Turkey is composed of three different major organizations;

Social Insurance Institution (SSK)
Pension Fund for Civil Servants (Emekli Sandigi)
Social Security Institution for the Self-employed (Bag-Kur)
There are Government plans to unify all these institutions under one roof in the future. Employers pay insurance premiums to cover work-related injuries, professional job diseases, or maternity leave. Both employers and employees contribute specified proportions to cover premiums for illness, disability, retirement, and death benefits. A new law will provide health care also to unemployed people if they match certain criteria.

Health care for travellers

Turkey, including Canada, United States and Mexico, most Caribbean islands, South America, the Middle East, Africa, most of Asia (including India, Thailand, Japan and Hong Kong) and the whole Pacific region (except Australia and New Zealand).does not have a healthcare agreement with the UK so you are advised to take out comprehensive medical insurance before you travel. Your travel agent or insurance broker can help make sure you've got the right level of cover for wherever you're going.

Health Risks

According to the World Health Organisation, Turkey is at a current level of no exception risk to travellers and travelling to the country with a modest level of caution there would be no unusual level of risk. The risk from Avian Influenza is believed to be very low, provided you avoid visiting live animal markets, poultry farms and other places where you may come into close contact with domestic, caged or wild birds; ensure poultry and egg dishes are thoroughly cooked.

Mosquitoes can still be an irritation in summer.

If you are travelling to Turkey, you should consult your usual healthcare provider for travel medical advice before departure.

For all medical emergencies Dial 122

Pharmacies (Eczane)

There are many pharmacies all over Turkey, or Eczane in Turkish, which are concentrated especially near hospitals but also in every neighbourhood. They are open from 09:00 - 19:00 on weekdays and Saturdays and are closed on Sundays but there is always one, open 24 hours in each neighbourhood.

Each pharmacy supplies the name of the closest open one, called the Nöbetçi Eczane (on duty pharmacy) for that Sunday, evening, statutory and religious holidays by placing a display in its window. Certain drugs are sold with green or red prescriptions permitting the Ministry to control sale of some medicines, and there are also many sold over the counter (OTC) without the need of a prescription.

Medicine in Turkey is usually sold without a prescription, with the exception of some powerful drugs such as somniferous and tranquilizers. Turks consider pharmacists as doctors and by explaining their health problems to the pharmacist, they request medicine and the pharmacist usually provides them with the medicine they need. Most pharmacists are able to measure your blood pressure if you ask them to, make injections and carry out vaccinations when needed.

Dentist

Students must study for five years in a Faculty of Dentistry before they become a Dental Practitioner. After a further five years of study they can become a specialist in a particular area of dentistry. In order to practice dentistry, each dentist must be a member of the Turkish Dental Association.

Dentists are available in most towns and tourist areas. A Pharmacy (Eczane) will be able to inform you of the local Dentist in your area.

Health Cover for travellers

According to a recent health insurance report, Britons retiring into the Turkish sun could be well advised to take their health insurance with them.

Almost a million British people are now retirees in another country, and draw their state pensions in their country of choice. Turkey is becoming more and more popular as a retirement destination. Once the residence visa is granted, retirees can enjoy the food, lifestyle, friendly locals and low crime rate.

However, for those Brits who have taken out a Turkish mortgage or are simply renting abroad, the Turkish public health service is limited for foreign nationals. For those with private medical insurance, industry experts advise keeping policies going. Reciprocal agreements as for travellers do not apply for residents. The NHS no longer treats expatriates, so international private medical insurance is well advised.