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Turkey’s science boards play key role amid COVID-19 pandemic

Turkey’s science boards play key role amid COVID-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic brought many changes to daily life in Turkey since the first cases were reported in March 2020.

Along with new words like “filyasyon” (contact tracing) and the HES (Life Fits Into Home) code, the public also became familiar with dozens of the country’s top infectious disease experts. The Coronavirus Scientific Advisory Board, formed by the Health Ministry, is also a household name for the public nowadays.

Along with the Social Sciences Board later formed by the ministry, it decides steps to take amid the outbreak, which has claimed 25,865 lives in the country so far, gives recommendations to the state administration and drafts road maps on multiple aspects of the outbreak, from vaccination to restrictions to curb the pandemic.

The two boards, comprised of medical professionals from across the country, held 59 meetings last year under the leadership of Health Minister Fahrettin Koca. Although the coverage of meetings fizzled out recently with improvement in the situation, each meeting, or rather, press conference, held by Koca after the meetings, had people glued to screens in the early days of the outbreak. Meetings still continue usually on a weekly basis, but most are followed with a written statement about discussions. The meetings also are being held via videoconference recently.

Yet, the boards’ influence on daily life continues. The government plans ahead in the fight against the outbreak with its advice, and though the boards themselves have not announced as many new measures as in the past months, the authorities’ announcements of new restrictions or their lifting still rely on their recommendations.