REMARKS BY AMBASSADOR AHMET AKİF OKTAY AT THE BETHESDA CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL PRESS EVENT 11 March 2021

Ambassador Ahmet Akif OKTAY 11.03.2021

I am pleased to take part in this meaningful event. Thank you for your invitation.

Right now, Ali, a Turkish child diagnosed with type 1 SMA disease, is receiving treatment at the Bethesda Children’s Hospital.

I understand that he is the first Turkish SMA patient to be treated by your hospital. And he is among the 10 children from different nations, who have received this treatment at your facilities so far.

Let me first express my congratulations to you on this important occasion.

Children are the future of our societies. Unfortunately, there are many more children in Turkey,

Hungary and other countries suffering from this condition. But thanks to the advancements of modern medicine, we are now able to look to the future with more confidence and optimism.

Currently hundreds of SMA patients are receiving treatment in Turkey. But the particular method and medicine used in Ali’s treatment has not yet been licensed in Turkey. Until that happens, treatment abroad will remain an important option for many families.

In terms of its location, its proximity to Turkey as well as other considerations, Hungary offers an optimal choice to parents seeking treatment abroad.

However, as we all know, there is also a big impediment to sending more children abroad for treatment. And that is the prohibitively high costs involved. Therefore, the only way most families can make use of this option is to launch fund-raising campaigns.

In this case, I am happy that many sponsors displayed an exemplary solidarity with Ali and his family. We, as a nation, are grateful to each and every one of them for their generous support to this humane and good cause.

I also want to express my appreciation to Dr. Kâmil Nas, who has been practicing in Hungary for many years, and the Turkish-Hungarian Women’s Association, for the close support they are providing to incoming Turkish families.

I take this opportunity to extend my deep appreciation and thanks to the administration, doctors, nurses and other health professionals of the Bethesda Children’s Hospital. Your dedicated efforts to cure children with the SMA condition are asource of hope for many families, whose only wish is for their children to lead normal lives, which the rest of us take for granted.

I also would like to express my profound appreciation to those families, including Ali’s family, for their selfless efforts to provide the best possible cure for their children.

Finally, I wish a speedy and full recovery to little Ali and all the other children you are treating, and hope that they will grow up to be healthy, happy and productive adults.

Atatürk

Ahmet Akif Oktay Ambassador
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