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Travel Medicine in Turkey: Current State and
Implications for the Future

Article in Journal of Travel Medicine · January 2003
DOI: 10.2310/7060.2003.30693 · Source: PubMed

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Hakan Yaman
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Travel Medicine in Turkey: Current
State and Implications for the Future
Hakan Yaman

Since the introduction of mass tourism in the late available. In some instances, patients may have direct
1980s to Turkey, recreational tourists have outnumbered access to medical specialists in hotels or holiday villages
educational and adventure travelers. Nowadays, not only because these “workplace doctors” regularly visit these
healthy adults, but also people with chronic disease, preg- places to care for employees.
nant women, young children, and elderly people are vis- No postgraduate training program for travel med-
iting Turkey for vacation.1 But this change brings problems, icine exists in Turkey. Since 1987, the Turkish Tourist
such as new types of risk-taking behaviors (i.e., pursuing Health Society has been concerned with tourist health
a specific sport or hobby, search of identity), lack at con- in Turkey. This organization has organized three inter-
cern for hygienic rules, water safety, hand washing, and national conferences on tourist health in Turkey to foster
specific demands for medical care. These problems are the standards, cooperation, and awareness of this multidisci-
challenge of travel medicine in Turkey today. 2 plinary and multisector discipline.1 Since 1992, the Turk-
Turkey, as compared with other destinations, is rel- ish Medical Association has been organizing tourist
ative new on the market. In 2001, 11.5 million tourists health courses for doctors. The last course was held in
visited Turkey and $7.5 billion (US) were gained from 2001 and consisted of a 40-hour, formal, primer train-
this sector. The ratio of tourism income in the gross ing in tourist health. The curriculum included infections,
national product has increased in the last 20 years from sexually transmitted disease, vaccination, injury preven-
0.6% to 3.8%. In 1997, 891,000 people were directly tion, first aid, and epidemiology. The Turkish Ministry
employed in the tourism sector. The World Tourism of Tourism has a department that is concerned with the
Organization has estimated that by the year 2020, 27 mil- health education of tourism employees, and some uni-
lion people will visit Turkey.3 versities in coastal regions have established new centers
Health services are provided predominantly by the for travel medicine (i.e., Akdeniz University in Antalya).
primary health care system. This consists of health cen- Tourism is a very important industrial sector of
ters that are located in larger settlements (5,000–10,000 Turkey and is increasing its income share year by year.
people) and staffed with physicians, nurses, midwives, and The Turkish Ministry of Health and the Ministry of
health technicians.4 Primary health care facilities are also Tourism consider health services for travelers a high
available and easily accessible in coastal and tourism priority. The primary health care system in Turkey, sup-
areas. If necessary, patients can be referred to state hos- plemented by state and private hospitals, can provide ade-
pitals that are well equipped and adequately staffed. Pri- quate health care to tourists by its easy accessibility,
vate health care centers and hospitals are also available widely distributed centers, and well equipped and staffed
in tourist areas to provide care to ill travelers. In state and facilities. The primary health care facilities’ roles in the
private hospitals, specialists in fields like infectious dis- control of environmental issues in their area (water and
ease, internal medicine, orthopedic surgery, general food safety, drainage, and canalization) contribute indi-
surgery, gynecology and obstetrics, and other fields are rectly to tourist health. Although this system can provide
contemporary health care to tourists, the challenges for
the future of Turkish travel medicine will be to estab-
lish a postgraduate clinical training program and travel
Hakan Yaman, MD, MS: Süleyman Demirel University,
clinics with the active involvement of existing travel
Medical School, Department of Sports Medicine, Isparta, medicine centers in universities.
Turkey and Turkish Medical Association, Section of Tourist
Health, Instructor, Ankara, Turkey. References
The author had no financial or other conflicts of interest to
disclose. 1. Gürsu G. Tourist health and tourism. Proceedings of Vth Inter-
national Conference on Tourist Health:Traveler’s Safety-
Correspondence: Dr. Hakan Yaman, Çelebiler mh, Standards of Tour ism; 1995 Nov 15–18; Gümbet,
119.cd.no:11/7, 32040 Isparta, Turkey.
Bodrum-Turkey. Ankara: Turkish Tourist Health Society
J Travel Med 2003; 10:68–69. Publ, 1996.

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Ya m a n , Tr a v e l M e d i c i n e i n Tu r k e y 69

2. Kocaošlu AB. Standards of medical services for travellers: a 3. Turkish Travel Agency Association. Tourism statistics of
safer Mediterranean for the year 2000. Proceedings of Vth Turkey. Available at: URL:www.tursab.org.tr (accessed May
International Conference on Tourist Health: Traveler’s Safety- 31, 2002).
Standards of Tourism; 1995 Nov 15-18; Gümbet, Bodrum- 4. Yaman H, Özen M. Satisfaction with family medicine train-
Turkey. Ankara: Turkish Tourist Health Society Publ, 1996. ing in Turkey:survey of residents.Croat Med J 2002; 43:54–57.

Girl playing in the water in Aruba. Submitted by Danielle Gyurech, MD and Julian Schilling, MD.

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