Health Minister Koca criticizes slow response of gov’t to problems in quake zone: Report

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca visited Hatay province and criticized the loss of public attention and the government’s slow response to accommodation problems in Turkey’s Southeastern region affected by the major earthquakes on Feb. 6, according to reporting by Fatih Altaylı.

Health Minister Koca on July 1 visits Hatay during Eid.

Duvar English

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said that he was disturbed that the public has forgotten the Feb. 6 earthquakes quickly and that the government had not reached the desired level of development in the quake zone especially in terms of providing permanent accommodation, according to reporting by journalist Fatih Altaylı.

Minister asked journalist to not write about his criticism until the cabinet meeting on July 3 as he first wanted to rise the problems he observed during his Eid visit on July 1 to the quake torn Hatay province there. 

Many hospitals in Hatay province were destroyed in the earthquakes and the province's capacity to care for patients were greatly reduced. According to the minister, the shortages have been greatly reduced by the establishment of large field hospitals and the construction of new buildings.

Nonetheless, according to the minister, there are other serious problems in the region, "People are staying in tents or containers. In this heat, one neither can stand inside, nor outside if they stay in these temporary shelters. There is no air conditioning; hence, it is unbearable to live in these places. We need to finish the permanent housing as soon as possible.” 

The minister told journalist that the survivors should not spend the winter in these temporary shelters as well. Koca also added that those who have the financial means to rebuilt their homes cannot start construction because the government has not completed the province's new zoning plan yet. 

“The state has been building social housing, but those who want to build their own houses should be given the opportunity to start as soon as possible. We need to finish the infrastructure as soon as possible and put it into operation,” the minister said. 

Koca said that water provision is also a very big problem for the province and stated, “ I am not saying that the municipality does not try its best, but in the end, municipalities have limited means and they suffered a serious earthquake.”

The minister also reminded the urgency of the problem and asserted that the Directorate General for State Hydraulic Works (DSİ) must step in  to provide usable and drinking water. 

More than 50,000 people lost their lives in the earthquakes that struck 11 provinces in Turkey's Southeastern region on Feb. 6. Approximately 15 million people affected by the quakes and many houses were demolished.