Health Sector and New Health Projects in Turkey – European Union Relations

Health Sector and New Health Projects in Turkey – European Union Relations

Having gained the right to be a candidate country at the Helsinki Summit in December 1999, Turkey has started accession negotiations since October 2005. Since then, Turkey has been conducting membership negotiations with the European Union under 33 headings. In the European Union Turkey negotiations, 14 of the 33 related chapters have been opened to negotiations so far, and the “Science and Research” chapter has been temporarily completed and closed. Today, however, the negotiation process continues within the framework of the positive agenda.

Within the scope of harmonization with the EU, Turkey carries out harmonization actions with the EU in 33 different titles, from Environment to Statistics, from Business and Industrial Policy to Food Safety, with harmonization laws, new policies and with the contributions of central level public institutions. One of the areas that draw attention in this process is the work progressing in the field of “Protection of Health”, which includes topics such as “Public Health”, “Communicable Diseases”, “Blood, Tissue, Cells and Organs”, “Mental Health” between the EU and Turkey.

We talked with Project Director Nazım Sönmez and Project Coordinator İrem Akgün from WYG Turkey Socio-Economic Consulting team about the studies in this field and EU projects in the Health Sector :

The European Union supports Turkey’s greater harmonization with the EU and the development of the institutional capacity of the Ministry of Health, with the funds and technical assistance projects it provides in the health sector, as in many other fields in Turkey. As stated in the EU’s latest progress report, progress in the field of Public Health draws attention in Turkey. It is emphasized that there are some preparations for strengthening the Administrative Capacity and increasing the Personnel Capacity at the central level and at the base. For this purpose, with the activities implemented within the scope of EU projects implemented in the Health Sector, both the institutional capacity of the Ministry of Health and its related units are increased, and the awareness of target groups in the field of health is increased. With the positive results of technical assistance projects in this direction, the EU and Turkey are one step closer in the harmonization process and Turkey becomes more compatible with the EU acquis in the field of health.

In addition to these positive steps taken, the “Technical Assistance for Harmonization in Human Tissues and Cells” Project and the “Technical Assistance for the Acquisition of Future Blood Donors” Project, which started in the first months of 2014, will contribute more especially in the field of “Blood, Tissue, Cell and Organs”, which has an important place in terms of public health.

If we shed light on the details of these two projects being implemented by WYG Turkey and its partners and the areas where it will provide added value;

The aim of the “ Technical Assistance for Harmonization in Human Tissues and Cells ” Project is to harmonize the Turkish tissue and cell transplant uptake system with the standards valid in the European Union. The rationale for the project is based on the fact that international exchange of tissues and cells is inevitable, and that patients can increase their chances of receiving the necessary life-saving or life-enhancing tissue and cell products, provided that harmonized, unified and appropriate medical, safety-related and legal standards exist in countries that are part of such an international system. . For this reason, the establishment of these standards will help to assure the public that tissues and cells purchased in another country from their own country carry the same guarantees.

During the 24-month implementation period, technical support is provided to support Turkey’s efforts in improving the practices related to tissues and cells within the scope of harmonization with EU legislation in order to support the Beneficiary and target groups of the project. In particular, the project targets at:

  • Harmonization of Turkish legislation with the EU acquis in the field of tissues and cells,
  • Developing the administrative capacity of the relevant units of the Ministry of Health through trainings,
  • establishing a donor pool by strengthening the data collection system, and
  • fulfilling the requirements for accreditation of tissue and cell laboratories.

In order to achieve this aim, activities such as providing basic trainings and providing effective coordination services are included within the scope of capacity building activities.

Specifically, the Project aims to achieve four main outcomes. First outcome includes a comprehensive and detailed analysis of the current legislation in Turkey and the EU and the preparation of additional legislation in Turkey. These activities are carried out in line with the guidance and recommendations of the Joint Working Group. Second Outcome aims to increase the administrative capacity of the personnel working in tissue facilities. In particular, this outcome includes the execution of the training needs analysis, the development and implementation of the Training of Trainers program and the continuation of the program. The Third Outcome aims to establish a well-functioning data system, reporting and evaluation system in order to ensure efficient traceability, to prepare statistical information forms to be used in the Ministry of Health, and to provide training to relevant personnel on how to use these forms. Finally, the Fourth outcome covers activities aimed at supporting the preparation processes of tissue organizations in accreditation procedures.

Within the scope of the “ Technical Assistance for the Acquisition of the Future Blood Donors ” Project, technical support is provided to contribute to the improvement of public health by preventing problems regarding safe blood supply in order to assist all target groups and the Ministry of Health, Ministry of National Education and Turkish Red Crescent as Beneficiaries. In particular, it is aimed that all the services provided within the scope of the project contribute to the establishment of an effective coordination between the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of National Education and the Turkish Red Crescent, and increase the capacity of the relevant parties to develop behavior among students within the scope of voluntary blood donation. In order to achieve this goal and purpose, numerous capacity building activities are carried out, and activities are carried out to reorganize the curriculum applied in primary and secondary education, to provide necessary training, to ensure sustainable coordination between beneficiary institutions and to raise effective awareness.

Specifically, the Project aims to achieve three main outcomes.

  • The first outcome includes an analysis of the current curriculum on blood donation in textbooks. It is expected that the process will contribute to the acquisition of blood donors of the future, by continuing with the meticulous analysis of the selected textbooks and the preparation of proposals for the regulation of the curriculum.
  • Second Result aims to increase the human resources capacity of the Ministry of National Education, Ministry of Health and Turkish Red Crescent in the acquisition of voluntary and unrequited blood donors. Within the scope of this result, many capacity building activities such as study visits, workshops, trainings, orientation seminars to two European Union member countries are carried out in order to provide the Beneficiary Institution personnel with the necessary information about the outputs of the project and to provide basic skills related to blood donation.
  • Third outcome includes the planning and implementation processes of communication activities. In order to effectively implement communication activities, a Communication Strategy and Action Plan are prepared, and within this scope, activities for organizing two separate campaigns on “Blood Donor Training and Acquisition” and “Media and Public Relations” and developing information and communication materials are implemented in 500 pilot schools. This result targets the whole of Turkey, including students, parents and other segments of society, both within the framework of pilot schools and for the promotion of blood donation throughout the country.

It is clear that both 2 projects to be carried out in this context will contribute to the technical and administrative capacity needed by the Ministry of Health and relevant stakeholders, as well as supporting  serious progress in Turkey in the fields of Blood, Tissue, Cell and Organ Donation, which saves and improves life for patients.  With these and similar projects, Turkey will not only achieve certain standards in the Health Sector, improve the living conditions of its people, but also become more ready for EU membership with each passing day.

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