By Fahrettin Altun - - Tuesday, May 19, 2020
The Turkish government provides free universal health care, and made early investments in its health care infrastructure that are paying off now.
Our efforts are turning the tide: The daily growth of new cases recently dropped to the slowest pace since the first case was confirmed in early March, and daily hospital discharges are now far exceeding new cases.
But some critics continue to pound President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for his “mishandling” of the crisis. So, let’s review the facts.
The reforms and investments we have made make health care more accessible to more people. Turkey has invested in its health workforce and built new hospitals, with plans underway predating COVID-19 for 10 new hospitals across Turkey’s densest urban centers. As a result, we have not experienced the same kind of overwhelming pressure on our health system that has hobbled other countries.
We also rank among the top five nations in the world in our rate of testing. We recognize that means our infection numbers will be high for a period of time — because there is a direct correlation between more testing and more positive cases, that’s no big secret — but there’s also no responsible way to get this under control without mass testing.
To cushion the blow to businesses and households, the government has postponed debt payments and reduced taxes, and is providing 36-month fixed interest rate loans with deferred payment to all businesses. It is also providing direct financial assistance to families in need. After announcing a 100 billion liras ($14.7 billion) support package for businesses, we are also planning to make it easier for the sovereign wealth fund to take over private companies in distress. The critics conveniently ignore those facts.
We also provide free universal health care to our people — which the critics often ignore. This is crucial if we want to successfully fight back against the virus, and many experts agree: Countries without it are at a severe disadvantage.