WHO opens new office in Turkey to boost fight against coronavirus
The Geographically Dispersed Office of the World Health Organization (WHO) in Istanbul, which will serve as a key response center to health crises, opened on Thursday in a ceremony with the participation of officials from the health body and Turkey, Trend reports citing Daily Sabah.
The office will serve as “a reference point and a guide” in emergency responses, according to the officials.
Turkey’s Health Minister Fahrettin Koca and Hans Kluge, WHO’s regional director for Europe, attended the ceremony via video link.
The new office will operate as an operational unit of the WHO European Regional Office’s Health Emergencies and Infectious Diseases Division. The WHO seeks to improve its capacity to help member states with the office, which will also include a training center for operational support units.
Speaking at the ceremony, Koca said Turkey’s role in regional and global health increased in the past two decades under the leadership of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. “Our health care system, rebuilt in line with our past experience and humanitarian diplomacy at the heart of our foreign policy, are two pillars of our active role in global and regional health issues,” Koca said.
He said Turkey’s relations with the WHO, its closest partner on health, was “more multilayered and diverse than ever,” and the new office was one of the concrete examples of this improved relationship. “The office, whose foundation was in the works since 2013, will contribute to global and regional health care by blending WHO’s technical expertise with our country’s pioneering role in humanitarian and health emergencies. It will serve in intervention to humanitarian crises, prevention of emergencies and emergency response, risk management and capacity building in the European region, particularly against the COVID-19 outbreak. It will make Turkey a central hub in those fields,” he said.
Turkey has drawn praise from the WHO for its successful fight against the virus. Yet, it has been seeing a resurgence in coronavirus infections for the past few weeks, with daily infection rates slowly but steadily climbing.
In an effort to prevent a further increase in infection rates, the Interior Ministry on Tuesday declared wearing masks outside as mandatory across all provinces. The order previously applied to only the worst-hit cities, with many provinces only requiring mask use in often crowded streets only.