The Social Security Institution (SGK) will launch a project in which members of 2 million Turkish families thought to be using excessive amounts of medication will be briefed on the harmful effects of unnecessary drug use.
Turkey has one of the highest consumption rates of medication among European countries. Elsewhere in Europe, annual expenditure on medication constitutes an average of 15 percent of all healthcare expenditure, but it makes up 30 percent of healthcare expenditure in Turkey, This has sparked fears that excessive consumption of medication may become an epidemic in Turkey, with some calling for it to be treated as soon as possible. Turks spend TL 16 billion on medication every year, and the SGK is searching for ways to reduce that figure.
Within the scope of this plan, the SGK will launch a project in which members of two Turkish families, chosen according to the volume of medication they have bought from pharmacies over the course of a year, will undergo a training program provided by the SGK in which the side effects of excessive medication usage will be explained, to increase knowledge and decrease unnecessary medication consumption.
SGK President Fatih Acar, speaking to Today’s Zaman, also pointed out the high numbers of MRI scans and X-rays being conducted in Turkey. He said that in addition to the financial burden caused by the excessive consumption of medicines, the number of MRI scans and X-rays are putting strain on the SGK. “Therefore, we will launch a training program to inform people of the negative effects of unnecessary medicine use, in order to prevent both excessive medicine use and excessive MRIs and X-rays.”
According to data provided by the SGK, annual expenditure on medical treatment is increasing year by year in Turkey. Turks spent TL 4.5 billion on medicines in 2001, a figure that had increased to TL 42 billion by 2011, and TL 22.3 billion in the first half of this year. The largest percentage of these medical expenses was medication. For the first six months of 2012, TL 7.1 billion was spent on medication alone, a figure projected to rise to over TL 14 billion by the end of the year.
Acar further stated that most users of large amounts of medication are not well informed about the side effects of medicines and other medical treatments, a fact that is behind the SGK’s awareness-raising project targeting people who go to the hospital more than 10 times in a year. Pamphlets or books including detailed information about excessive medication consumption will be sent to approximately 8 million people from 2 million Turkish families.
Acar also noted that the pamphlets and books to be prepared as part of the project will contain slogans such as “Excessive drug use brings harm instead of healing,” “Around 35,000 people die annually due to medical mistakes in our country,” “Excessive MRIs and X-rays jeopardize health,” “Rational drug use recovers your health, not excessive use” and “Around 1 million people are killed due to medical problems stemming from medication they take around the globe every year.”
Acar also noted that approximately 7.8 million Turkish people attend go to the hospital between 11 and 50 times in a year in Turkey, while 35,000 people seek treatment at hospitals between 50 and 100 times a year.