Published On: Sun, Mar 17th, 2013

Article: Healthcare System in Turkey (by Semiha Unal)

The healthcare system in Turkey is being developed under the 2003-2013 Health Transformation Program as part of the EU harmonization package. The purpose of this program is to increase the quality and efficiency of the healthcare system and enhance access to healthcare facilities with the introduction of a number of reforms. The harmonization with the EU and sector modernization is leading to considerable potential.

Turkey’s annual healthcare spending in 2009 was USD 38 billion, representing 6.2 percent of total GDP. The pharmaceuticals market, a key component of the overall sector, generated revenue of USD 10.8 billion in 2009. There are 49 manufacturers in the industry, and 13 of them are foreign investors. The industry employs approximately 25,000 people. Turkey ranks as the 16th largest pharmaceutical manufacturer worldwide and the 6th largest pharmaceutical market in Europe, after Germany, France, the UK, Italy and Spain.

Moreover, population in Turkey is growing faster than in the EU. Total healthcare spending is forecasted to rise to about USD 63 billion in 2014, but could be substantially higher if the government fails to restrain public spending on health.1 The total pharmaceutical market is expected to reach USD 22.8 billion by the end of 2015, while the medical devices market is forecasted to reach USD 3.12 billion

Healthcare infrastructure is also improving quite considerably with rapid increase of private hospitals. Domain hospitals are the new trend in the Turkish healthcare sector. Healthcare groups are specializing in one healthcare area, providing a “one stop shop for patients”. Turkey’s domain hospitals specialized in ophthalmology, aesthetics and infertility are becoming more and more known in European and neighboring countries thanks to much lower cost of operations in Turkey.

It is estimated that private and public Turkish medical establishments will make around $8 billion in 2015 by raising the number of foreign patients from approximately 200.000 to 1 million. While healthcare tourism sector is rapidly growing in Turkey, Turkish domain hospitals are also opening up hospitals in European countries where they can provide competitive services to European patients.

Turkey has also been introducing new incentives to attract foreign investors to Turkish healthcare sector such as a new R&D legislation, providing incentives to invest in pharmaceutical R&D and abolition of the procedural requirements that were once asked of foreign investors. Foreign companies are also no more required approval of the Foreign Investment General Directorate (FIGD) for transfer of shares or incorporation of companies with foreign capital.

Besides the reforms in the Turkish Commercial Code and the healthcare system the improving healthcare awareness, availability of skilled workforce, the growing population, falling mortality rates and improving demographic indicators makes it attractive to invest in the Turkish healthcare sector.

Turkey’s healthcare sector will certainly continue to grow in the coming years, offering more business opportunities to both Turkish and global firms.

Business Consultant for Turkey

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