The Turkish government employed outstanding strategies to tackle the virus during first phase. In the health sector, the availability of enough hospitals and health services led citizens regardless of class and age to access free 24 hours healthcare services, while other developed countries kept struggling to manage the breakout, helplessly unable to overcome the overcrowded patients and recommending people to stay home even if they are tested positive.
Although Turkey had many confirmed cases than Iran, and even China, making it the most affected country in the Middle East, togetherness of public-private hospitals made easy to tackle smoothly to the growing number of patients. Within a month, Istanbul Başakşehir City Hospital was launched and as Minister of health said “There is a variety of logistical facilities in the hospital with a medical area of 304 thousand square meters. In total, there are 725 examination rooms and 2682 patient beds.
Each of these beds can also be used as intensive care beds, if needed.”, this were exceptional steps Ankara’s government has taken to prove it’s strong health system at the time when many have fallen to stand and sustain on their own foot.
Turkey,s key Anti-Covid-19 strategies
Tukey employed several strategies to contain the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. Fist, aggressive prevention. Total curfew was the last option. In social distancing, the government distributed nationwide free-of-cost masks in the wake of coronavirus pandemic and hand sanitizers are available in public stations. Turkey’s COVID19 curfew has been installed carefully to avoid adding fuel to the situation in hand.
Second is avoiding socio-economic cisis. Even though Turkey’s main economic sources such as Tourism, industrial production and agro-business export markets has been effected by the lockdown, Turkey has taken steps to prevent financial crises, starting from launching a national donation campaign announced by President Erdoğan “We’re Enough for Each Other Turkey” which now raised more than ₺1.5 billion.
President Himself donated 7 months of his salary and announced that the public banks will give pensions to retirees to help families in need and those who are mostly effected by the virus. And remember, every citizen can request masks free of charge via the website in a time the world struggling to get masks even in cheap prices.
The third strategic policy was evacuating Turkish nationals living abroad. Turkey’s focus was not only citizens living within, since the outbreak, and over to 70,000 Turkish nationals have been repatriated from more 80 countries. After landing in Turkey, there are mandatory health checks to proceed like 14-day quarantine.
Finally, a well coordinated Coronavis aid to the rest of world. During this unpredicted global lockdown, it’s very difficult to remember others, but in Turkey, humanity and conscience has no excuse by helping others and sending timely donations, this has again proven the capacity of Ankara’s government to not only overcome its own problems but also help others indiscriminately of region, religion and ethnic.
Turkish Air Force carrying COVID19 aid has been flying daily from continent to another, from south to north. And also in Ramadan, Turkey has always been well known with its humanitarian aid to the poor especially in war and conflict-effected areas.
Why Turkey succeeded?
Turkey is already fighting in many fronts such as COVID19, military and strategic geo-political fronts such as Libya and Syria, unrecovered Turkish currency and debt crisis of 2018. it is nevertheless controlled the pandemic with a limited time and extraordinary work. I believe that the fallowing key issues were behind the success of Ankara’s fight against Covid19;
Strong Institutions. for last 20 years, the country focused in building strong institutions and sustainable strategies, investment in human capital and modern high education, encouraged professionalism, skillfulness and knowledge. A nation that benefited a lot from technology and e-government services, it invested health sector with a huge amount of billion of dollars, and for the last 10 years, it remained a hub for health tourism industry. Additionally, cooperation between different government institutions, public and private pave the way to manage well for such unpredicted pandemic at time other countries perplexed.
Good Citizens and Responsive Government; solidarity and togetherness are routine phrases in the public mouth and on social media. People are eagerly waiting government announcements and updates to fulfill the rules and regulation installed.
Through balconies, every night at 9:00pm Istanbul time, Turkish citizens with their president and the first lady make applause for their frontline health workers. In addition to this, government officials of this country take responsibility of faults, for example, the immediate curfew announcement from the Ministry of Interior which caused market overcrowds with minor injuries, Minister Suleyman Soylu’s admitted his mistakes as he sent resignation letter to the President which later the president turned it down after massive voices from the public requesting not to accept the resignation, referring the extraordinary and the tireless work the minister has demonstrated with a good will.
Responsible and friendly Police officers also played a big role in easing the public, it is normal to see police officers serving elderly people who helplessly stayed indoors. In this selfish world, it is hard to have such a patriotic society, a thankful citizen and accountable leadership.
Self-sufficient economic system. No matter whether a country’s economy is capitalism, socialist, liberal or authoritarian system, what matters most is how it shaped its economic policies and institutions, how it overcame and manage not only in prosperity but also in crises time. I believe the resilience of Turkey’s economy is due to well-grounded public finances, a dynamic and diversified private sector. Empowering local production made it a stronger nation without need of imports. Turkey, a country that never waited or depended World Bank, IMF, WHO or any other world organization.
In Covid19 pandemic, institutions and skilled people were encouraged to increase production such as producing masks with 3D printers, for example, the Justice Ministry made masks for prison inmates and staff through volunteers from civil society, and the Defense Ministry also produced masks at its textile facilities for the Turkish Armed Forces.
To sum up, the world has a lot to learn from Ankara’s model of fight against virus, and there will be a time when the world will appreciate and recognize Turkey’s role on fight against the virus not only in Turkey but a global wise. Additionally, may be my fellow Turkish citizens are expecting more from the government, but also comparing to other countries, I think it is time again to applause and give thousands of claps to our health workers, law enforcements and leadership.
By: Fadumo Ali, graduate..