Serious measures are needed to tackle population increase
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 be working from 9-12 May. They are part of the National Initiative for Developing the Egyptian Family which consists of women economic empowerment, ensuring free access to birth control, promoting awareness, promulgating legislation, and offering monetary incentives.
The convoys will provide free family planning and reproductive health services for the villages of the Decent Life initiative and those most in need, the spokesman for the Ministry of Health and Population Hossam Abdel-Ghaffar explained.
Abdel-Ghaffar said they intend to have a positive impact on the health of mothers and children, raising community awareness and improving the quality of life for the family.
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 increase in population so that people and the country would benefit from governmental development efforts, as President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi has often stated.
Egypt’s current population is 103 million with 2.5 million newborns annually. The population is expected to increase to 153.7 million by 2050 which requires the state to increase its infrastructure projects two fold throughout the next 30 years.
Each convoy will comprise obstetrics and gynaecology as well as family planning specialists to provide “distinguished and high-quality services”, Hossam Abbas, head of the ministry’s Population and Family Planning sector, pointed out. They will provide a combination of safe and effective contraceptives free of charge, including modern long-acting contraceptives to increase their usage and reduce the unmet needs in order to satisfy female beneficiaries, Abbas said.
Abbas added that part of the convoys’ mission is to conduct awareness-raising seminars on the dangers of child marriage, correcting women’s information about contraceptives, the impact of family planning on mother and child health, the harmful effects of female genital mutilation (FGM), and child labour.
The Ministry of Health, via the convoys, aims at spreading the government’s messages in an unconventional way through cultural centres in the governorates where raaedat, or rural female leaders, will reach women by holding daily theatrical performances and puppet theatres in the villages where the convoys will visit.
The family planning and reproduction health project will take three years, starting in governorates that are currently within the first phase of the countryside-focused presidential initiative Decent Life, said Abbas.
President Al-Sisi launched the National Initiative for Developing the Egyptian Family in March. He had noted that the country’s population had increased by 14 million in the past seven years and that was exhausting the country’s resources. “The state must rally its efforts to realise development in order to combat 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 not to have more than two children.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 12 May, 2022 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.