İstanbul’s healthcare director calls on residents to have at least 3 children

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The provincial healthcare director of Turkey’s most populous city of İstanbul has called on the city’s residents to have at least three children, echoing a controversial call frequently made by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Addressing the concerns of some people who fear that COVID-19 vaccines might lead to infertility, İstanbul provincial healthcare director Professor Kemal Memişoğlu said if that had been the case, European countries, which want to increase their population, would not be using the COVID-19 vaccines.

The director said C-sections were a much bigger problem that should worry people, adding that 58.2 percent of the births in İstanbul last year were C-sections.

“If they really care about fertility, people need to ask why are there so many C-sections. C-sections are as big a problem as the pandemic,” said Memişoğlu, noting that birth rates in developed cities like İstanbul should increase.

“Let’s have at least three children, please,” added the director.

According to Memişoğlu, while the average age to start having children was 24 in 2000, this figure “unfortunately” rose to 29 in 2020.

The director’s call attracted criticism from Turkish Medical Association (TTB) member Professor Kayıhan Pala, who described Memişoğlu’s call as “outdated.”

“This call is also problematic in terms of gender equality in the society especially because women are driven out of the workforce after having two children. We need modern healthcare officials,” tweeted Pala.

President Erdoğan has been calling on Turkey’s women for years to have at least three children to boost the country’s population, drawing the ire of feminist groups and women’s rights associations. He also advises “Muslim families” not to use birth control or family planning and opposes C-sections as well.

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