File Photo: Egypt s Health Minister Khaled Abdel-Ghaffar. Photo courtesy of Egyptian health ministry Facebook page.
The official spokesperson Hossam Abdel-Ghaffar said on Sunday that since launching the initiative in March 2020 the ministry has screened 1.8 million women.
In November, the ministry had announced it had screened 1.68 million women as part of the initiative.
According to Abdel-Ghaffar, the mother and fetus health initiative aims to diagnose diseases transmitted from mothers to fetuses at an early stage and provide free treatment and medical care for those that require it.
The initiative itself focuses on the early diagnosis of Hepatitis B Virus, HIV, and syphilis infections among pregnant women and on reducing the rate of maternal mortality from these diseases, Abdel-Ghaffar added.
It uses reagents of international quality standards, the spokesperson said, and offers advice for the prevention of diseases.
The tests are undertaken under full confidentiality and can only be done with the woman's consent, he asserted.
Furthermore, along with the checkups during pregnancy, the initiative includes a follow-up on mothers and their newborns for 42 days after delivery to detect any health complications -- should they arise -- as well as dispensing the necessary micronutrients during that period.
The initiative is implemented by more than 4,000 medical teams in medical units and centres nationwide from 8am to 2pm throughout weekdays, said the spokesperson in November.
Cases that require further testing are referred to one of the many medical institutions across the country that serve patients suffering from Hepatitis B, syphilis, or hyperglycaemia (high blood sugar level) and that are affiliated with the ministry.
The Mother and Fetus health initiative is part of the broader 100 Million Healthy Lives presidential initiative.
On a related note, as of February 2023, nearly 33 million women have been screened under the broader presidential initiative to support women's health.
The women's health initiative was designed to screen breast cancer at an early stage, pursue clinical examination, and provide free-of-charge treatment, focusing on reproductive health, family planning, and healthy lifestyles.