Turkish doctor faces lawsuit under 'censorship law' for revealing vaccine shortage

A lawsuit was filed against doctor Hacı Yusuf Eryazğan for “publicly disseminating misleading information” due to his statements about the shortage in Turkey’s vaccine supply.

Fatma Keber / Gazete Duvar

A lawsuit was filed against Urfa Family Physicians Association Chair Hacı Yusuf Eryazğan for “publicly disseminating misleading information to the public” after he talked about the vaccine supply problem in Turkey’s family health centers in a television programme.

The case is rooted in Article 29 of last year's parliamentary legislation (Law No. 7418), commonly referred to as the “censorship law” and promoted by the government under the name “disinformation law.” 

In the lawsuit filed against Dr. Eryazğan under this article, the prosecutor requested a prison sentence of one to three years and ban from professional organisations.

In response to the lawsuit brought against him, Dr. Eryazğan conveyed that his remarks were connected to the Hepatitis B, polio and tuberculosis vaccines supply problem encountered not only in southeastern Urfa province but across Turkey during the final four months of 2022.

The doctor mentioned that their association had engaged with representatives from the Provincial Health Directorate and the General Directorate of Public Health, revealing that the vaccine shortage remained unresolved, resulting in disputes between patients and physicians at family health centers.

"I made a statement about this issue on a news channel and a week after this statement, an inspector from the Health Ministry was assigned here. I gave the inspector the necessary documents, and together with my witnesses, we openly expressed that there was problems in the supply of vaccines," Dr. Eryazğan said.

The doctor stated that no administrative penalty was imposed on him after the inspector left, "The authorities did not issue a disclaimer about the news program, but for some reason, a criminal complaint was filed against me with a letter sent by the inspection board to the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor's Office. I am not allowed to talk about these problems because of the recent censorship law."

The doctor emphasized that unvaccinated infants can experience significant suffering and that it is a public duty to address this concern.

According to the "childhood vaccination calendar" implemented by the Health Ministry, children are vaccinated from birth to the eight grade.

Although systemic vaccination of children is recommended by the state, parents who do not wish to be vaccinated can opt their children out of the vaccination programme by filling out a form.

(English version by Can Bodrumlu)