Healthcare in Turkey

There are many high quality hospitals in Turkey, especially among the private ones
There are many high quality hospitals in Turkey, especially among the private ones

Healthcare in Turkey may not be what you´re used to. Your first port of call for minor ailments if taken ill on a Turkish holiday is the pharmacy or Eczane; the Turkish often use these in place of general practitioners or primary care doctors so you’ll find them on most street corners. A pharmacist has the training to listen to your ailments, diagnose and give you treatment – he or she is often able to dispense drugs over the counter which are only available on prescription elsewhere. Should your pharmacist think you need to be seen by a doctor, he will recommend one for you.

Doctors also have many diagnosis tools at their disposal that may save you a trip to a hospital, performing the likes of ultrasounds in the surgery, for instance.

As with all trips abroad, travel insurance is very important. While Turkish healthcare is significantly cheaper than in the United States or in many European countries, treatment can still add up. The quality of care in state hospitals is also significantly poorer than their private counterparts. It is worth checking exactly how your insurance works, for many private doctors will expect payment in cash. In some resort areas, however, you may find English-speaking clinics where basic investigation and assessment is free if you can produce a valid insurance document.

Should you need a hospital, the number of private facilities has grown significantly over the past decade, more developed in the west of the country than in the east. Compared to state hospitals where staff are unlikely to speak English, a private hospital will give you an English-speaker to accompany you on your appointment, or ensure you are seen by an English-speaking doctor. Many doctors in private hospitals now train abroad. Waiting times are usually shorter and you can buy any prescriptions from the hospital pharmacy. Depending where you holiday, you may have to travel to the next town for your nearest private hospital.

If you need emergency dental treatment, it is significantly cheaper than in Europe or the States. A replacement filling, for instance, may cost you just under $30 or £20 (23 Euros). Standards of dental care vary, however, so it may help to ask around for better quality places. Your travel insurance will not usually cover you for anything other than emergency dental treatment.

Health concerns in Turkey:
  • Hepatitis B: Infected blood, contaminated needles and sexual intercourse can transmit hepatitis B, which in turn can cause jaundice and liver problems. The disease is a problem in Turkey – in 2003 the Turkish Ministry of Health estimated that one third of adults were infected with Hepatitis B - so many doctors recommend that all travelers make this a routine vaccination.
  • Mosquitoes: The World Health Organization classes the southeast of the country as a malaria risk from May to October. The tourist resorts in the west and south west of the country are considered malaria free. Mosquitoes can still cause unpleasant reactions, however, so it is wise to take precautions.
  • Turkey has one of the highest rabies incidents in Europe, so if you are traveling off the beaten track it’s a good idea to consider an anti-rabies jab.
  • It also pays to be careful with perishable goods in the more remote areas of the country as some vendors have poor refrigeration. You should also make sure, as always, that you wash all fruit and vegetables thoroughly before eating.