Recep Akdag was born in Erzurum, Turkey in 1960. As a pediatrician, he has been holding a professor title from the Ataturk University School of Medicine since 1999. During his career as a medical specialist and academician, he had been involved in a number of administrative tasks. Between 1994 and 1998, he worked as the Deputy Chief Medical Director, Chairman of the Procurement Commission and Deputy Editor of the Medical Bulletin in the Research Hospital of the Medical Faculty of Ataturk University. He also co-founded the Biotechnology Research Center of the University and served as the Deputy Head of the Center from 1997 to 2000.
After being elected as a Member of Parliament from the Province of Erzurum, he had served as the Minister of Health of Turkey between 2002 and 2013. During his tenure, he has been the key figure for the implementation of the influential Health Transformation Program (HTP) in Turkey. This comprehensive program brought a people-oriented approach to healthcare service delivery and strengthened the health system with successful implementation of universal health coverage. Major aspects of this health system reform included integration of public hospitals, increased patient access to medical services and prescription drugs, invigorated primary healthcare delivery with the implementation of family medicine, improved maternal and childhood healthcare services, better quality and reach of emergency services, and establishment of a national medical rescue team.
HTP generated high access rate for essential services thru the adequate healthcare supply and universal health insurance covering the poorest. Infant mortality rate, maternal mortality ratio and catastrophic health expenditures decreased dramatically. Public satisfaction with health services increased from 39% in 2002 to 75% in 2012. Apart from leading this influential program, Prof. Akdag has edited a number of reports and contributed/co-authored academic articles about HTP. He has addressed, directed and moderated in many international conferences including of those the WHO and UNICEF. He has received the WHO’s “World No Tobacco Day” Award as a recognition of his efforts in the fight against the global tobacco epidemic and in the promotion of tobacco control initiatives and policies. He has been an advisory board member of the Ministerial Leadership in Health (MLIH) Program at Harvard University since 2012.
Prof. Akdag still serves as an MP in the Grand National Assembly of Turkey for his third consecutive term. He also is a Richard L. and Ronay A. Menschel Senior Leadership Fellow, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.