With its 28 translators operating in six different languages, the International Patient Assistance Unit (IPAU) of Turkey’s Health Ministry looks forward to helping foreign patients.
The unit provides oral translation in English, German, French, Russian, Farsi, and Arabic for 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and aims to extend a helping hand to foreign tourists or people who seek medical treatment at Turkish health institutions.
“We provide foreign patients with service in line with medical tourism or tourist health. To ensure good communication between doctors, health authorities and patients, we provide interpretation services,” Vicdan Akıncı, the manager of the unit, told state-run Anadolu Agency.
Akıncı said the translation services are also provided for the Turkish emergency medical services hotline, as well as at university hospitals, private hospitals, private health centres, pharmacies, and at the Health Ministry’s complaint line 24/7.
She added the majority of the calls would come from Turkey’s favourite tourist destinations, particularly the southeastern Antalya province, which has already drawn more than half a million tourists in the first quarter for 2019.
Emphasising that translation services were only provided to those suffering health-related issues, she went on to note that the patients could dial “0850 288 38 38” free of charge and choose a language, then start speaking with interpreters.
According to official figures of the Health Ministry, IPAU has already received 31,337 calls in 2019. Akıncı said most of the calls would be related to tick bites, dog bites, heatstroke and fever. However, the unit sometimes faced unusual medical situations too.
While Turkey expects millions of tourists to flock to Turkey for their annual vacations, the workload of IPAU is expected to increase significantly. However, Akıncı said it was a privilege to help foreigners with health needs as she viewed the unit not as part of her job but “an opportunity to help people.”