Anzac centenary commemorations and Turkey’s massive health reforms created a timely platform to promote Ko Awatea in Istanbul recently.
The New Zealand-Turkey Healthcare Sector Day, organised by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, was attended by Director-General of Health, Chai Chuah, and chairperson of Counties Manukau Health, Lee Mathias.
Eight private New Zealand companies, including both Fisher and Paykel Healthcare and Orion Health, also participated in the event, held at the Ciragan Palace and timed to take advantage of the close ties between the two countries in the wake of extensive Anzac commemorations.
Dr Mathias said her presentation during the two-day meeting was about promoting Ko Awatea as an organisation able to offer services to the Turkish market as it faces significant changes in healthcare delivery.
Turkey operates within a climate of full social welfare and its health system is not dissimilar to New Zealand, though with a far more limited focus on primary care, she noted, adding planned reforms are unlikely to focus on primary and community services.
Health media attending the presentation dinner in which Dr Mathias spoke were fascinated with the New Zealand health system and its level of sophistication, she said, adding several reporters expressed concern about the Turkish plan to create 4000-bed hospitals within each of the country’s 34 health districts.
“We suggested they might like to look at a Western model of care and we described openly our move to small secondary and tertiary facilities and a greater move to increasing primary and community care using our localities model,” she said, adding she emphasised Ko Awatea’s support during this shift. As an example she described Manaaki Hauora and the 20,000 days projects to emphasise how cost effective community care can be.
“We did suggest that the long-term implication of investing so much capital into building often restricts your flexibility.”
Dr Mathias said she identified a range of areas Ko Awatea could offer services in change management. Service planning and preparation for change were given as examples.
“They were very interested in how we get actually take a large number of people and move a whole unit or department ahead. They’ve never really seen that sort of level of change before,” she said.
She also discussed Counties Manukau Health initiatives, including Handle the Jandal, the translation of which created much mirth.
“They laughed because they just couldn’t get the word ‘jandal’, and then of course it was translated as ‘thong’.”
Attendees were particularly interested in Ko Awatea’s work in the Continuing Care project in Qatar, Dr Mathias said.
During a tour of two private hospitals, Turkish nurses were impressed by a description of nurse autonomy in New Zealand and the LMC model of maternity care.
“They were fascinated that every birth has a midwife. In Turkey, you get a doctor delivery if you are wealthy, and in East Turkey you will be lucky if you have a local woman be at the birth.”
Dr Mathias also noticed other key differences in care, including the lack of any form of health promotion, as well as an absence of hand basins and gloves in many of the hospital rooms visited.
She said Turkish health officials were open to help from Ko Awatea, and contact with Turkish consultants has already been made.
“We will be investigating opportunities through Ko Awatea.”