Health Minister Recep Akdağ announced on Monday that doctors will no longer ask pregnant women whether they would like to deliver their babies by Caesarean section or a natural birth.
The rate of Caesarean section births in Turkey was 51.1 percent of all births in the first three months of this year, compared with 46.6 percent over the same time period last year, indicating an increase in the number of women undergoing C-section surgery.
Attending a health forum in Boston, Akdağ complained that people are not sufficiently informed about C-section surgeries, particularly at private hospitals, and that C-sections are offered to pregnant women as an option.
“We will eliminate this situation of making an option [between natural birth and C-section],” Akdağ said.
He said Turkey ranks in the top three among Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries where the number of C-section surgeries is the highest, along with Brazil and Mexico.
“C-section surgeries are common in developing countries. We are taking and will take measures against this type of surgery,” he said.
The minister also explained that government's attempt to reduce the number of C-sections is because it aims to protect both the woman and the baby against the complications of a C-section birth.
According to the most recent data released by the Ministry of Health, the rate of C-section births in 2009 was 39.3 percent for public hospitals, 61.8 percent for private hospitals and 63.2 percent for university hospitals. In 2010 these rates increased to 40.2 percent, 63.7 percent and 65.2 percent. Last year rates stood at 36.8 percent of all deliveries in public hospitals, 66.6 percent in private hospitals and 65.9 percent in university hospitals, indicating a gradual increase in C-section surgery.
C-section births recently came into the spotlight after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan expressed his opposition to the surgery, describing it as unnatural, at a conference in İstanbul on May 25.