PROF. RECEP AKDAĞ 23.05.2017

“Building better systems for health in the age of Sustainable Development.”

Mr. Chairman,

Madame Director-General,


Distinguished Participants,

Before I begin my speech,

I would like to strongly condemn the heinous terrorist attack which took place in the United Kingdom last night. On behalf of my government, I express my heartfelt condolences to the friendly people of UK.

I thank Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan for her comprehensive report, which provided us an overview on the global health issues. Having the particular importance of the Election of new DG this Seventieth Assembly, with no doubt, will also succeed as the previous ones.

I would like to thank to Madame Director General Dr. Chan once more for her contribution to the further development of global collaboration in health and her dedication to the WHO reform. It was a pleasure to witness her endeavor in strengthening the role of the WHO all around the world.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Health systems are the instruments for the provision of accessible and efficient healthcare for all, I am very pleased to see that WHO focuses on building better health systems in this 70th

World Health Assembly. As policy-makers, our ultimate goal should go beyond providing healthcare services; focusing on strengthening our systems in the best possible way.

Most of our countries require some recoveries in the system and some may completely need to transform. Health System Transformation cannot be achieved overnight, it is a never-ending process and needs to define further goals after each and every achievement.

We carried out Health Transformation Program in Turkey between 2003-2013, based on a human-centered approach and successfully have completed the 1st

Phase. We achieved universal health coverage throughout the country. We not only reduced mortality and morbidity in communicable diseases but also decreased the

disease burden 4% and witnessed dramatic improvements in all health indicators. Citizen satisfaction increased remarkably, from 39 to 75 % (percent).

The success of the 1st Phase, put us further needs and goals that led us designing the 2nd Phase. This time we mainly focused on strengthening Primary healthcare services with specific emphasis on promoting healthy life style while reducing risk factors like diabetes, smoking, inactivity and obesity. In secondary care we prioritized perfection of healthcare services in hospitals and focused on clinical quality.

We have been establishing new facilities mainly through Public Private Partnership; 30 health campus hospitals with around 42.000 bed capacity in total, with high quality and high technology. 3 of them are already taken into service and we are planning to complete the whole project by the end of 2020.

Distinguished Delegates,

Health is directly and strongly affected by politics. We, as leaders of global health, SHOULD NOT and CANNOT ignore political matters. Our responsibilities are not limited to only planning and delivery of health care services. We also have to deal with every attempt that threatens human life and health and react more effective.

While we are in a struggle for saving lives, for instance through immunization programs, we mostly achieve preventing some communicable diseases; whereas inappropriate policies can kill hundreds of them at once, with a single bomb attack either conventional or chemical as we all witnessed with deep sorrow in Syria recently.

Even if you vaccinate all children in a territory under attack, you may end up with vaccinated children dying, instead of unvaccinated ones, at the end. Efforts of best healthcare end up saving life of some; where the consequences of bad politics kill many…The ones who are lucky to survive, became migrants seeking shelter.

As you are aware, Turkey hosts more than 3 million refugees we call then our guests, mostly from Syria. Also observed on site by WHO, all Syrian guests have access to free-of-charge healthcare services as high quality as Turkish citizens benefit. Since 2012, 25 million medical outpatient examinations and 930 thousand surgeries have been performed while 220 thousand Syrian babies were born in Turkey. I would like to underline that Turkey spent more than 26 billion dollars from its own resources for needs of those under protection. Considering Turkey’s efforts as a middle income country, donor countries and foundations can do much more with a higher sensitivity.

Distinguished Participants,

It is obvious that humanity and global health need much more effort and WHO is the main instrument and platform for these. We need a stronger WHO in terms of governance, financial resources and advocacy of health for all.

Today three highly qualified Director General Candidates will be voted here.

I wish success to all three candidates and have no doubt that whoever will be elected as new DG, will do the best to pave the way further for the wellbeing of humanity.

Thank you!


Sadık Arslan Ambassador

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