Medical award given to HEAL for fighting coal in Bursa, Turkey
Brussels, 14 March 2017 – At a ceremony today, on the National Doctor’s Day for Turkey, the Bursa Chamber of Medicine awarded its 2017 Environment Prize to the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) in Turkey.
The Bursa Chamber of Medicine is the official local branch of the Turkish Medical Association, which has 83,000 members.
The award was given to HEAL in Turkey in recognition of its contribution to resisting the planned DOSAB coal power plant with a 49.9 MW capacity in Bursa. (1) Bursa is an important industrial centre in western Turkey with a population of 2.8 million people.
In particular, HEAL helped the resistance against the DOSAB coal power plant where doctors and medical professional have been leading. When local groups challenged the official environmental impact assessment for the project in the courts, HEAL’s figures on the health costs from air pollution associated with coal were used. As a result of this successful challenge, the project was temporally cancelled in May 2016. (1)
The HEAL figures were taken from “The Unpaid Health Bill, How coal power plants in Turkey make us sick”, which estimates that coal power plants in Turkey cause 2,876 premature deaths each year. (2)
Génon K. Jensen, Executive Director, Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) said:
“We are delighted that the Bursa Chamber of Medicine has recognised the key role that doctors and health arguments can play in motivating community groups, and deeply inspired by doctors from Bursa and throughout Turkey advocating for the right to cleaner, healthier air for all! HEAL promotes cleaner air for better health, which includes promoting alternatives to fossil fuels, in particular coal. Cleaner energy choices help avoid unnecessary premature deaths from respiratory and heart conditions and can prevent new cases of bronchitis and asthma.”
HEAL has been part of local resistance efforts in Bursa for the past three years bringing support from doctors and the health and environment community from all over Turkey. (3)
Receiving the reward, Funda Gacal (shown below), HEAL’s Energy & Health Consultant in Turkey, said:
“It’s a great honour to receive this award from the Bursa Chamber of Medicine. It will greatly motivate us as we carry out our activities on the health effects of coal power plants. The model of bringing medical professional leadership to environmental problems is a good one. It is already expanding to different parts of Turkey and we hope this experience can inspire others in Europe and beyond.”
The court case was brought by “The Platform Against the DOSAB Thermal Power Plan”. DOSAB is the Demirtas Organised Industrial Zone in Bursa, which hosts several automotive, machinery, metal, furniture and textile factories. The Platform, comprising 100 local organisations, was created as a result of the strong local resistance prompted by fears of the air pollution it would create.
Unfortunately, a second environmental health assessment was submitted in July 2016, which was accepted in September 2016. However, HEAL’s advocacy efforts against this second report consolidated its collaboration with the Turkish Medical Association, Turkish Thoracic Society and others on this issue. (3)
The important boost that the health perspective brought to resistance to the coal plant in Bursa was highlighted in a HEAL presentation by Vijoleta Gordic at the COP22 in Marrakesh in November 2016, where she described Dr. Kayihan Pala, a leading doctor in the platform, as “a climate warrior”. (4)
In receiving the award, Funda Gacal paid tribute to Deniz Gumusel, HEAL’s previous consultant in Turkey, and thanked “the whole HEAL team for all the hard work leading to this success and despite all the political and personal difficulties that we challenge everyday here in Turkey.”
Funda Gacal, Energy & Health, Consultant in Turkey, Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Mobile: +90 506 251 2186
Diana Smith, HEAL Communications and Media Adviser, Diana@env-health.org, mobile: +33 6 33 04 2943
Notes for journalists
2. The Unpaid Health Bill, How coal power plants in Turkey make us sick, HEAL, 2014 http://env-health.org/IMG/pdf/19052015_hr_coal_report_turkey_final.pdf
Originally posted on 14 March 2017