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A Brief Guide to Healthcare in Turkey

Relocating, or spending long periods of time in a foreign country, can seem daunting and healthcare is a vital issue to be considered. Medical services in Turkey have undergone many improvements over the past few years, although conditions and quality does differ from what you may expect at home. We have devised this brief guide to give you some general advice and guidance on all things healthcare related.

Public Healthcare

The Turkish Ministry of Health governs social welfare and healthcare in Turkey. Under the Turkish Constitution, article 60 states that "every individual is entitled to social security", and continues that,"....the State takes the necessary measures to create this". The Ministry oversees the health care provisions for the local community by providing and building state hospitals and medical centres, training medical staff, controlling the production and prices of drugs and pharmaceuticals, supervising pharmacies and overseeing private hospitals.

Although most cities and larger tourist towns have good access to quality local medical care, hospitals, equipment and physicians there is little provision made for the more rural and remote areas.

Turkish citizens are entitled to healthcare via payments made via their employment, similar to the UKs National Insurance contributions. The majority of regular employees are covered via social security contributions paid (SSK), civil servants via their government pension fund (Emekli Sandigi), and the self-employed via their Bag-Kur payments. Foreigners on tourist visas, or residing in Turkey without paying contributions, are not covered by this public system so it is important to organise adequate personal healthcare insurance to cover any medical emergency or treatment that may be necessary or possibly face a very large bill for emergency treatment.

For emergency medical situations whilst in Turkey dial 122 from your phone.

Private Healthcare

Foreigners should ensure they have adequate private medical insurance covering their stay in Turkey. Private hospitals tend to offer a higher quality of service and care, English speaking staff and better overall medical treatment so it's worth paying extra to be able to utilise their services if necessary. For those simply visiting for a short period, travel agents, banks and online brokers can offer excellent coverage at very reasonable prices, it's worth shopping around for the best prices but don't forget to keep an eye on the excess they require you to pay before claiming. These insurances normally cover emergency treatment in public and private hospitals and medical centres. It's worth pointing out that many sporting activities are not covered by these policies so, if intending to get involved in any action sport, check you policy coverage first.

Healthcare for Ex-patriots

It is best to take out a good private healthcare plan in Turkey, ex-patriot health care insurance, or international insurance if you are a planning to be a permanent resident in Turkey. Keep in mind that it is possible to claim your UK state pension whilst living in Turkey, but the NHS no longer offers healthcare to ex-patriots living abroad. Adequate health insurance is strongly advised.

Health Risks

The World Health Organisation, at present, suggests that travellers to Turkey are at "no exception risk". This means that you shouldn't experience any serious issues providing you take care.

The common medical complaints of those visiting Turkey are the same as those visiting most hot or foreign countries; stomach upsets, mosquito bites, dehydration, alcohol related problems and minor injuries. These can all be easily avoided if you remember to drink plenty of bottled mineral water, not to drink the local water as it contains a different mineral content to the UK, use a good mosquito repellent, take care to check that your food is cooked thoroughly (especially if BBQ), limit your alcohol intake and watch where you are going!

Pharmacies or "Eczane"

Most Turks use the local pharmacist as we would use a doctor in the UK, the first port of call for any minor issues, colds or ailments. Doctor's surgeries, as we would associate them in the UK, are few and far between. Some of the main tourist resorts, or areas with high numbers of ex-patriot residents, are now starting to see private local doctors clinics springing up, but in general there are few. Locals tend to visit the pharmacist for anything minor and go directly to the hospital for anything more serious. Most locals self-medicate as the majority of common medicines are available over the counter.

Pharmacies are found on most high streets in Turkey. Those in tourist resorts tend to speak English. They offer the community far more than those in the UK. The main pharmacist is trained to offers advice and issue suitable drugs for most common illnesses, will help dress injuries, take blood pressures, dispense prescriptions for the few drugs prescribed by the hospitals (normally tranquilisers and powerful pharmaceuticals), and help apply injections or any other minor treatments necessary.


The quality of many dentists in Turkey is generally excellent, and the cost of dental care and cosmetic dentistry a fraction of that in the UK. A growing number of foreigners are now choosing dental treatment in Turkey over that in their native countries.

There are many dentists to be found in towns and cities, a number of them in tourist resorts speak excellent English. Dentists qualify after 5 years of studying in Turkey, they can specialise following another 5 years. It is best to ask other ex-patriots or locals who they would recommend.

Please Note: The information provided in this document is correct at time of press and is provided for guidance purposes only.