spc one square meter ankara bilkent health campus_00004118.jpg
Building a hospital mega-complex
02:56 - Source: CNN

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Turkey investing in far-reaching healthcare facilities

Bilkent Integrated Healthcare Campus in Ankara will be one of the largest hospitals in the world

More than 1,300 doctors and double that number of nurses will work at Bilkent

CNN  — 

On a wet day in Turkey’s bustling capital, Ankara, healthcare workers busily go about their daily tasks.

A temperature is taken here, a patient is wheeled into an operation room there while hospital doctors shuffle along their rounds.

Turkey’s population is over 74 million and growing. Every citizen, whether young or old, will need medical care at some point in their lives.

The need to upgrade and build new facilities to meet growing demand is hence very real – a fact not lost on the country’s leaders.

The Turkish government initiated a health transformation program in 2003 financed by both private and public funds.

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There are currently 36 medical facilities under development with the giant Bilkent Integrated Healthcare Campus in Ankara earmarked as the flagship project – a site for science and knowledge.

On completion, it will be one of the largest hospital complexes in the world, housing 1,300 doctors and double that number of nurses.

Bilkent will also feature a hotel resort and conference area. Hopes are high that the facility will cater for a large number of medical tourists as well.

“This is the largest project of Turkey ever under the republic era,” said Mehmet Ali of Dia Developers, the development company charged with taking Bilkent from the drawing board into construction. “It’s a historic moment for us.”

So far, 86,000 iron rods and 900,000 tonnes of concrete have been used to build the 1.2 million square meter campus.

Of the 35 million tourists who visited Turkey in 2013, meanwhile, close to 200,000 came for surgical procedures from cancer treatments to hair transplants.

Neslihan Aybar, the regional director for Aecom, an architecture and engineering firm that specializes in healthcare projects, says part of the Bilkent strategy is to tap into this market.

“We have seen plenty of patients coming from outside of Turkey especially to the healthcare facilities in Istanbul,” Aybar said.

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Challenges remain in ensuring these well laid plans come to fruition, however.

Medical students at the nearby Ankara University will be key to the success of the transformation program. But graduate numbers still lag below the amount of staff needed.

According to Turkish health minister, Mehmet Muezzinoglu, the powers that be have a plan in place to address this issue.

“At the moment we don’t have a high number of health professionals working in Turkey,” Muezzinoglu admits.

“(But) we plan to recruit highly qualified health professionals, including doctors and nurses trained in the west, especially Greece and wider Europe.”

The government is pushing to implement its healthcare reforms by 2018.

By then the Bilkent is expected to be serving 25,000 patients each day.

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It’s an ambitious timetable given the staffing and training obstacles that must be overcome.

“We firmly believe that we will succeed … based on our professional experience, based on our potential and the physical infrastructure we have been establishing,” Muezzinoglu said.

“By the end of 2017 we are planning to complete it by 70% and by 2018 it’s going to be accomplished 100%.”

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