Health Minister Dr. Fahrettin Koca attended the "Mental Special Needs and Autism Symposium" organized by the Ministry of Health on April 2nd, Autism Awareness Day, and delivered the opening speech.
Minister Koca's speech was as follows:
As the Ministry of Health, finding solutions to health problems that concern the general or the vast majority of society is an important part of our work.
Due to the pandemic, we are having a difficult time paying enough attention to some issues. We are faced with a heavy demand. Despite all this, there are some issues that cannot be delayed.
The diseases in question cannot tolerate any delays due to their nature.
I have already stated on several occasions: it is a priority of our ministry that all individuals with special needs can easily benefit from high-quality healthcare services.
As the Ministry of Health, we are aware of the various problems experienced by children and their families. We know that families have strong expectations for concrete steps towards a solution.
Last year, we demonstrated our commitment to solving problems by establishing the Department for Autism, Mental Special Needs and Rare Diseases.
We identified the problems immediately after setting up the team to work in this area. We conducted interviews with families and non-governmental organizations. The report of the Parliamentary Research Commitee was reviewed.
9 separate scientific advisory boards were created, with 83 academics contributing to the identified problem areas. We have started working on solutions and we are moving forward.
Our efforts bore fruit for the first time during the pandemic. For example, multidisciplinary support was provided to nearly 1,000 families during the 8-month period through the ‘Special Children Support System’ and ‘Tele-Medicine’ application, which have also set an example for countries around the world.
Feedback from families show that satisfaction with this service has reached 90%. We will make the necessary efforts to make these applications permanent.
As you know, April 2 was declared World Autism Awareness Day. I see this as an opportunity to provide social support and attract attention to the issue.
Two critical considerations in autism and other mental special needs cases are early diagnosis and early intervention. In 2015, we made the screening studies that started pilot applications in Erzurum nationwide.
54,658 family physicians and family health workers received video-based autism awareness training, 1,863,096 children were screened for autism, 53,314 children were identified as at risk and referred to “child-adolescent mental health” specialists without having to go through the appointment system.
As far as we know, as a result of this application, which is one of the most comprehensive and original efforts conducted in the world, the developmental problems of 10 thousand 87 children were identified at an early stage.
That is not it. Our goal is to take this system to the next level. Our goal is to create models that will allow early diagnosis of other developmental disorders and make early intervention programs a part of the healthcare system.
I know that we do not have enough time to explain all our projects in detail and to give you other news.
I would appreciate it if you had the opportunity to listen to the academics, who are members of relevant committees, on projects that deal with dental treatment, inpatient services, emergency services, transition to adulthood and services, nutrition problems, etc. I hope that you will also take special interest in the presentation of our vision for the coming period, which will be delivered by scientists working abroad. Bütün bunlarda, hayalinizdeki tasarıların tarafımızdan geliştirilmiş şeklini bulacaksınız.
The importance of these issues requires permanent solutions.
The full support of families and non-governmental organizations is of vital importance as we try to come up with solutions.
What is the biggest strength?
The biggest strength is unconditional love and compassion.
And we all have this strength in us.