Serious measures are needed to deal with the increase in population
Six convoys for reproductive health and family planning were deployed on Monday to 18 villages in six governorates.
The convoys, supervised by the Ministry of Health, will work from May 9 to 12. They are part of the National Initiative for the Development of the Egyptian Family which consists of economically empowering women, ensuring free access to birth control, promoting awareness, enacting legislation and offering financial incentives.
The convoys will provide free family planning and reproductive health services to Decent Life Initiative villages and those most in need, said Ministry of Health and Population spokesman Hossam Abdel-Ghaffar. .
Abdel-Ghaffar said they intend to have a positive impact on the health of mothers and children, by raising awareness in the community and improving the family’s quality of life.
The convoys will cover the governorates of Sohag, Qalioubiya, Gharbiya, Fayoum, Sharqiya and Beheira. They are part of the government’s efforts to slow down the population increase so that the people and the country benefit from the government’s development efforts, as President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi has often stated.
The current population of Egypt is 103 million with 2.5 million newborns per year. The population is expected to reach 153.7 million by 2050, requiring the state to double its infrastructure projects over the next 30 years.
Each convoy will include specialists in obstetrics and gynecology as well as family planning specialists to provide “distinguished and high-quality services”, stressed Hossam Abbas, head of the population and family planning sector at the ministry. They will provide a combination of safe and effective contraceptives free of charge, including long-acting modern contraceptives to increase their use and reduce unmet need to satisfy beneficiary women, Abbas said.
Abbas added that part of the mission of the convoys is to conduct sensitization seminars on the dangers of child marriage, to correct women’s information on contraceptives, the impact of family planning on the health of the mother and the child, the harmful effects of female genital mutilation (FGM), and child labour.
The Ministry of Health, through the convoys, aims to spread government messages in unconventional ways through cultural centers in the governorates where the raaedat, or rural women leaders, will reach out to women by organizing daily theatrical performances and puppet theaters in the villages where the convoys will visit.
The family planning and reproductive health project will take three years, beginning in governorates that are currently in the first phase of the presidential initiative focused on Decent Life campaigns, Abbas said.
President Al-Sisi launched the National Initiative for the Development of the Egyptian Family in March. He noted that the country’s population had increased by 14 million in the past seven years and that this was draining the country’s resources. “The state must rally its efforts to achieve development to fight poverty, ignorance and increase awareness, knowledge and progress as well as prosperity,” the president added.
Other population control initiatives include Two is Enough launched in 2020 to encourage families to have no more than two children.
*A version of this article appeared in the May 12, 2022 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.