Istanbul, Turkey, December 31, 2011 As an arm of Turkish soft power
and growing regional influence, civil society organizations and doctors
are leading the way to make a measurable impact on the ground in Africa.
The Turkey branch of the prominent doctors' organization Yeryüzü
Doktorları (Doctors Worldwide - DWW) has been active in Africa since
2000 in such places as Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya,
Somalia, Ghana and Sierra-Leone.
Approximately 850 health professionals are committed to providing
volunteer medical services like examinations, cataract and fistula
operations, health screenings, establishing maternity clinics and
hospitals, and providing medical supplies against endemic diseases in
"The organization has developed ambitious projects matching the key
needs in East Africa, including the creation of a DWW Shifa hospital in
Mogadishu, the opening of nutrition centers and the start of nutrition
programmes," explained Esra Kartal, corporate communications director of
Ihsan Kahraman, chair of DWW Turkey, uses a famous proverb to explain
the organizations objective: "Give a man a fish; you feed him for a
day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. So, we are
teaching African health professionals and providing medical services in
a sustainable way."
Dr. Kamil Ozdil, an expert in gastroenterology, was a part of the team
visiting Somalia this year.
"We performed check-ups, operations and simple surgeries as much as we
could. However, the country is lacking basic and sustainable health
infrastructure," he told SES Türkiye. "All health problems have become
chronic and unresolved, so it requires that all countries in the world
give their positive contribution."
To boost local capacity, DWW Turkey has been training 13 Somali health
professionals in Turkish hospitals this year. "During some operations in
Somalia, local doctors also assisted us, which contributed to their
professional experience," Dr. Tamer Sekmenli, an expert in paediatric
surgery, told SES Türkiye. Sekmenli's team visited Somalia this year,
performing 56 operations in only ten days.
Another influential team composed of Manisa-based doctors has been
providing communities in the Central African Republic with medical
services since 2007.
The Manisa Health and Education Foundation and the Turkish International
Co-operation and Development Agency (TIKA) are providing technical and
financial support to the doctors that perform hundreds of routine
check-ups, hepatitis vaccinations and operations during each visit.
"As a result of the co-operation agreement between several Turkey-based
nongovernmental organisations and TIKA, Turkish doctors are set to
provide regular health services in 36 African countries," explained Dr.
Fahrettin Er, an urologist in the team, adding that associations in each
city are assigned to a specific country in Africa.
Also making an impact on the continent is the well-known Kimse Yok Mu
(Is Anybody There?) charity foundation, which has been organizing health
campaigns and lending medical support to people in need in Africa,
including Sudan, Somalia, and Uganda.
"In Somalia, we've made nearly 70,000 health check-ups and surgical
operations since August 2011, while in Uganda we are helping local
officials to make circumcisions in order to prevent AIDS-HIV, and in
Sudan, we have doing a lot of cataract operations," explained Veysel
Kayabasi, health services director of the foundation.
The foundation opened health centers in the refugee camps; organized
circumcision campaigns in several African countries; conducted malaria
tests on local communities; and brought clean water to regions in order
to decrease instances of diarrhea. The association has been also
spending large amounts of money to repair hospitals in Africa and to
train local health professionals.