Turkey, one of the oldest inhabited countries of the world, is mostly popular for its tales from the yore. Its location at the crossroads of Europe and Asia makes Turkey, originally Anatolia, country of significant strategic importance. The same strategic importance has been of utmost utility in establishing Turkey as a prime destination for medical tourists.
Attracting close to 130,000 people every year from across the globe for medical treatment, Turkey has firmly asserted its authority and ability in the health tourism department, giving impetus to the Turkish government to force the issue and pump further funds and resources into improving amenities at an unprecedented rate.
World Class Facilities
The medicine industry in the country is self-sufficient with regard to the domestic and international sector for treatment. This ensures that tourists visiting from countries abroad don’t have waiting periods for treatments.
Turkey, highly regarded for dental treatment, hair transplants, cosmetic surgery, offers incredible facilities at surprisingly low rates, making it the prime destination for patients seeking medical attention in such areas. Almost all hospitals in the country have a dedicated cosmetic surgery wing. Turkey's JCI accredited medical facilities are affiliated with top-tier US providers such as Harvard Medical School, Johns Hopkins Medicine, etc.
Certified Staff And Hospitals
With almost all hospitals in the country ISO 2001 certified and 47 Joint Commission International (JCI) accredited hospitals, Turkey’s private medical infrastructure is a well-built option in the global medical tourism arena. The certification of the amenities ensures the maintenance of a certain standard.
Hospitals in Aziz, Istanbul and Ankara are considered to be at the same level as numerous highly regarded European hospitals. One can easily reach Turkey by plane, from many countries and in a short period of time. Turkey is an EU candidate country currently fulfilling membership criteria, thus ensuring high and consistent standards in healthcare.
Medical Tourism Guide for Turkey
More than 700,000 patients visit Turkey every year, particluarly Istanbul, to avail high quality treatment in its hospitals. Source: Fcuk1203 via commons.wikimedia.org
Tourist Friendly Environment
The strategic location of the country, which made it one of the oldest permanently settled places in the world, now assists tourists to come in from various parts of the world. Its vicinity to the Asian and African Mainland, easy travel options due to the bordering Mediterranean Sea and Dead Sea and efficient air travel connectivity makes it extremely accessible.
Turkey is home to a vast number of historical and architectural attractions scattered all over the country. There are 13 certified World Heritage Sites in the country including Mount Nemrut, Hattusa, Heirapolis and many more, giving the visiting tourist a good value for spare time in the country. The capital city of Ankara hosts a major airport and there are regular flights in and out of the country to most major international cities, thus easing transit to nearby tourist spots, which patients can opt to visit post treatment.
Fast Growing Destination
Over the last decade or so, the Turkish government has taken decisive steps towards improving the economic and healthcare facilities in the country making it one of the fastest growing medical tourism destinations across the world.
There has been a meteoric rise in the number of medical, tourists visiting Turkey in the past few years- from 74,093 patients in 2008 to 109,678 in 2010, as per data from MTA (Medical Tourism Association). The wide variety of treatment options provided by the country’s hospitals and the state-of-the-art infrastructure and facilities attract hordes of tourists from surrounding countries.
APPROXIMATE TREATMENT COST COMPARISON
Turkey, like other popular medical tourism destinations, provides excellent facilities and treatments, for a fraction of the price for the same treatment in USA or UK.
PROCEDURE APPROX. COST IN USA (in USD) APPROX. COST IN TURKEY (in USD)
Heart Bypass 123,000 13,900
Angioplasty 28,200 4,800
Heart Valve Replacement 170,000 17,200
Knee Replacement 35,000 10,400
Hysterectomy 15,4000 7,000
Rhinoplasty 6,5000 3,100
Dental Implant 2,500 1,100
IVF Treatment 12,400 5,200
Gastric Sleeve 16,500 12,900
Spinal Fusion 110,000 16,800
Liposuction 5,500 3,000
Hip Replacement 40,360 13,900
IS IT SAFE?
Turkey is considered to be one of the top 10 medical tourist destinations in the world, thanks to the excellent quality of services and knowledgeability of the medical staff. The city of istanbul itself has 48 JCI accredited medical facilities. As a medical tourist, you are in safe hands of the doctors here. As a tourist, you need to be wary of attacks that have taken place in the country in the recent years.
Although the country is safe, it experiences its fair share of turbulence caused by discontent individuals. Hence, make sure you choose safe options in terms of hotels, transport services, tourist guides, etc. For example, when choosing a taxi, make sure it is a government run taxi, as it will be much safer than a privately run taxi service.
HOW IS HEALTHCARE IN THE COUNTRY?
The healthcare system of the country has undergone exponential changes in the recent decades. The Healthcare Transformation Program (HTP) has improved healthcare in the country substantially, and has led to better life expectancy (75 years), maternal mortality (3 per thousand) and child mortality (14 per thousand). However, most doctors and healthcare services are concentrated in the cities and the rural population does not enjoy high end healthcare amenities in their region. Thanks to medical tourism, locals from rural areas can travel to the cities in order to utilize the perks of private healthcare.
DO DOCTORS SPEAK ENGLISH?
Though English is not a commonly spoken language in the country, the government has taken commendable steps to overcome this disadvantage and to facilitate medical tourism. The health ministry in 2012 launched a hotline service that would allow international patients to speak to any doctor along with a translator through a teleconference. These translators are available 24/7 and speak mainly in English, Russian, German, and Arabic. In addition, translator services, for when you reach the city to get treated, are also widely available.
Turkey is a prime destination for medical tourists seeking cosmetic surgery. Treatments like liposuction, orthodontics, Lasik, rhinoplasty, breast augmentation are extremely popular. In addition to this, most hospitals in Turkey also provide cardiovascular surgery, brain surgery, orthopedic joint (knee & hip) replacements. A number of highly regarded hospitals in the country, such as Anadolu Medical Center, Bayindir Hospital, Guven Hospital and many more offer revolutionary and fresh treatment technologies like Cyberknife.
Medical Travel in Turkey
Liposuction in turkey costs as low as $1900, whereas the same procedure can cost upto $7300 in UK. Source: CMSRC via commons.wikimedia.org
Critical procedures like kidney dialysis, prostate operations, organ transplants (heart, kidney, liver, pancreas, small intestine, bone marrow), in-vitro fertilization treatments and fertility operations are offered at most major hospitals in the country. Dental treatments and surgical eye operations are also performed at numerous hospitals. Special emphasis needs to be given on the state of oncology treatment in the country.
Similar to Japan, Turkey has a rapidly growing cancer-treatment department, with hospitals bringing in medical professionals and referral doctors from renowned medical institutions from USA, such as Johns Hopkins, Harvard etc., to augment oncology departments of hospitals in the country.
WHERE TO GO IN TURKEY
Istanbul, the largest city in all of Europe, is home to a number of professional hospitals, most of which are JCI accredited. Istanbul Ataturk, a major airport, is well-connected to important cities in most continents. Numerous historical monuments like the Hagia Sophia, Column of Constantine, Monastery of Stoudios etc. serve as side-attractions for visiting medical tourists.
Turkey Medical Tourism
According to Turkey's ministry of health, the country has become the 6th most visited country for medical tourism, with the capital city Ankara attracting hordes of patients. Source: HTME via en.wikipedia.org
Ankara, the capital city too has many hospitals, most of which are centric towards cosmetic surgery. Ankara, like Istanbul, is very well-connected to major cities via air transport. The added advantages of cheap and reliable accommodation in the interior parts of the city, on top of the presence of innumerable picturesque museums, tombs, mosques, inns etc., make for a very well-rounded stay in the city.
THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND
English is not a widely spoken language in the country. Hence, language barrier should be the first of your consideration while choosing Turkey for your medical trip. Make sure your hospital in the country provides translation services. Additionally, some hospitals in the country do not possess the knowledge to issue appropriate documents, such as the letter of invitation to medical tourists. The visa application for Turkey requires that medical tourists show such a document. Hence, you need to associate yourself with a knowledgeable hospital.
Although most of the country’s citizens identify themselves as ‘turks’, their ethnicity varies from region to region. Aside from the Turkish ethnic groups, the country is inhabited by the Kurds, the Arabs, the Laz and the Georgians. The cuisine is characterised by borek (a pie filled with cheese, spinach and minced meat), kebab (pieces of fish, meat or vegetables roasted or grilled on a skewer) and dolma (a dish with meat or spiced rice wrapped in vine or cabbage leaves) dishes.
Islam is the most practiced religion and 98% of the citizens are Muslim. Etiquettes are given prime importance in the country. For example, one cannot drink, smoke or eat anything without offering it to his/her companions first. Public display of affection can also lead to unwelcome attention and should be avoided.
The weather varies in the different locations of the country. The average temperature of inland Turkey in summer is 23 degree celsius and during the winter is -2 degree celsius. Cities such as Istanbul and Edirne are located here. Most of the hospitals are located in inland Turkey, given the pleasant weather and developed infrastructure in the cities.
The black sea region, with cities such as Trabzon, enjoys a warm and humid climate, ranging between 7 degree celsius and 23 degree celsius. The coastal region has a temperate climate, with an average temperature of 18 degree celsius all year round. Cities of Izmir, Aydin, and Ayvalik are located here.
Some of the most popular tourist destinations in Turkey are:
Pamukkale: A natural wonder, it is a landscape of white terraces made of ice
Hagia Sophia: It is a basilica turned into a Church
Library of Celcus: Build in 125 AD, this is a library as old as time
Mount Nemrut: The summit of this mountain contains ruins of giant statues
Cappadocia: This city offers cliff ridges, rock valleys and balloon rides along with churches from the byzantine era
Bodrum Castle: Once a castle, it is now a museum of underwater archaeology
You can easily get around in Turkey by using the roadways. Inside the city, you can travel through trams and local minibuses called a ‘dolmus’. Certain cities like Ankara, Istanbul and Izmir also provide the underground metro service. You can even hire taxis for travel, although they are a relatively expensive option. Buses are an economical travel option and run between as well as within cities. The sea route makes cruises and ferries a viable option for those looking for luxury travel.
You require a visa to enter Turkey unless you are a citizen of one of the 78 visa-exempt countries or one of the 43 countries which are eligible for an e-visa on arrival. If you’re from countries such as Canada, US and UK, you are eligible for the e-visa on arrival facility. You must hold a passport for at least 6 months before arrival to the country. The visa application procedure for a medical tourist is the same as that of a normal tourist. Hence, the requirement for a visa depends upon your nationality.
IS THE QUALITY SAME AS HOME?
Assuring the same quality in medical care as home is not a difficult task in Turkey. The country has been ranked 6th in the list of most visited medical destinations in the world, a number assuring in itself. You can choose from among 47 JCI accredited hospitals in the country. In addition, the Ministry of Health Care in Turkey takes the charge of directly managing health care providers effectively. The hospitality and warmth of the medical staff as well as the public is said to be popular. Patient testimonials also point towards the same fact.
Turkey, in a nutshell, serves to the average tourist a plethora of options, from breathtaking landscape to awe-inspiring monuments to wondrous medical treatment.The multitude and professionalism of the staff here not only leaves the patients more than well satisfied, but the sheer well-roundedness of the experience makes for a typically refreshing experience in the land of fusion of Anatolia and Eastern Thrace.