A History of Family Planning in Turkey

TAPV was founded in 1985 by a group of business people, academics, and representatives of business associations under the leadership of Vehbi Koç. The foundation has developed in parallel with the rapid societal changes which have taken place in Turkey during this period.
On the agenda of the day were the social and economic problems and unregulated urbanization that followed after mass rural-to-urban migration. This internal migration had resulted from a rapid population increase in Turkey, particularly after the 1950s. Discussions about population growth began to take place with the foundation of the State Planning Organization in the 1960s and with the commencement of the First Five Year Development Plan (1963-1967).
According to the official view expressed in the plan, as long as the rate of population growth exceeded the rate of growth in national productivity, it would slow economic development as measured by per-capita growth. Rapid growth, instead of raising the living standards of individuals, was being funneled towards meeting the needs of a rapidly growing populace. Consequently, the problems of population growth became a public topic of discussion. With the passage of the Population Planning Law by the National Assembly in 1965, the freedom of individuals to decide when and how many children to have was recognized. This was the first step in the area of family planning.
Throughout the 1960s, Turkey’s population increased at a rate of three percent while the total fertility rate, indicating the average number of live births per woman, was six. In terms of public health, an important motivation behind this law was that the research on women and children’s health had revealed that the rate of death and illness in mothers and children was disproportionately high. It was determined that more than half of deaths in expectant mothers occurred as a result of illicit abortions.
The 1970s was a period in which family planning became integrated with basic health services and in which there were efforts to connect the population with family planning resources as well as women and children’s health services. But the Fourth Five Year Development Plan (1979-1983) emphasized that the effective implementation of women and children’s health and family planning services still constituted a problem. In 1983 a step forward was taken in the form of a legal regulation; as surgical family planning options became available, women now had the option to terminate pregnancies up until ten weeks, and efforts were undertaken to make the option of this service more widely available.
In the 1970s the high infant and maternal mortality rates began to drop under the influence of expanding health services. According to the data collected by the 1978 Demographic and Health Study, the infant mortality rate was 170 per thousand. The maternal mortality rate during the same period was over 200 per hundred thousand. While the concepts of population growth and family planning have been emphasized in the field of women and children’s health, the social and economic consequences of rapid population growth continue to affect all parts of society. These effects include both internal and external immigration, urbanization, and the growth of marginalized groups.
The subject of the dynamics of rapid population growth in the context of economic development is still a controversial one, particularly with regard to the negative aspects.
As a result, organizations in both the public and the private sector have turned their attention towards the topic of population. The Turkish Family Health and Planning Foundation was founded in this context.

1985-1990 Progress

Since the organization of the foundation, institution tries to develop new projects to support the family planning. Collaborate with private sector, foundation started projects for factory staff. Main objectives of the projects are increasing the awareness ratio related to family planning and rate of the benefit from the healthy sector.

Trainings approach include family planning concept, mother-child health, bringing up children, and families life conditions.

The efforts started to 1986 and their implementation, support and evaluation and sustained until the mid of 1990s as an active model.

1990-2000 Progress

At 1990s Family Planning awareness rate is increased in Turkey. 1989 TNSA researches showed that conscious level as %98 related to family planning and modern method users’ family number is determined as %38. Although quantities growth is realized, information is inefficient qualitatively. Researches also show that stereotypes, prejudice, bias, and traditional methods prevent utilizing modern techniques accurately.

While public sector, private sector and non-governmental organization struggle, family planning service is not adequate. Number of women who completed fertility period is %70 at 1990s. However, efficient method employment number isn’t equivalent this number and intended number of spontaneous abortion number is high at 1980s and 1990s therefore; both local solution and nongovernmental organizations dense efforts are increased in these years to spread family planning to broad districts.

Social transformation affected both in rural and urban however, although technology spread lot of information in broad areas traditional methods were common in turkey at these years especially in rural areas. In addition, another perception was women were responsible for family planning common in Turkey but men are also played role by traditional techniques and condom users’ number is increased within years.

1994 Population and Development Conference Action Plan main topics focused on the importance men’s’ participation in family planning. TAPV try to realize participation of both men and women equally also realized project which target group is men.
Main transform at 1990s is family planning as a phenomenon is reevaluated in the context of reproductive health.

2000 – 2014
In the 2000s economic and social developments are increased. At 2005 income level for per individuals GNP exceed 4500 $. Importance of agriculture is decreased while service sector importance is increased.  As the population increasing in Turkey, people have inefficient information concerning sexual health, mother-child health and reproductive health. TAPV tries to rehabilitate people awareness rate about these issues.
Especially in South East of Turkey requires services as regards sexual health, mother-child health and reproductive health. Batman government hospital outbuilding was build and a health center started to service in these years. The services in Şırnak were also improved.
In last years psychological problems reasons were determined mainly as sexual problems .In Turkey most of the population perceives sexuality as taboo, but new generation started to talk and discuss about the sexuality, their attitude and behaviors are more actively.
In Turkey each year 1200 mother die caused by maternity reasons and more than this number become disabled.
Women have unequal chance to benefit from services during their pregnancy period because of social, cultural and economical inequalities in Turkey.
By the trainings, communication and consultancy services which are the component of safe motherhood, women awareness rate can be increase related the importance of applying health services.
A significant social phenomenon of the 2000s is Turkey’s struggle to be member of European Union. Within this process population rate of Turkey is a big obstacle to be a member. TAPV organized a conference to show the population and migration reality in Turkey. Young population should be trained for understanding their sexuality, to protect themselves from sexual illness and unintentional pregnancy.

Future Steps

Final ten years of century by the demographic transformation young population structure converts to older population. During the European Union membership process, young population is an opportunity for Turkey. Young population could be converted to qualitative labor force.

TAPV will maintain to rehabilitate reproductive health, mother-child health and sexual health and increase the life standard of individuals especially adults. Also; rehabilitate statue of women in society and family. We will improve our programs by considering the demographic transformation, youth and women policies, and migration dynamics.

We will raise the quality of family planning and spread contraception methods, facilitate the access to health service. Increase the awareness rate of society related to sexual health.