Egypt’s rapid population growth has put pressure on the country’s economy and environment, threatening the well-being of its people.
Overpopulation is considered a top priority of the Egyptian state, as it has a direct impact that devours the fruits of economic development made by the state and continues to risk the country’s resources and commitment to Egypt’s sustainable development goals.
Despite, the state’s effort to improve the public health system through adopting the National Plan for Family Development (2021-2023), that focuses on improving the quality of life of the citizens in which the development of the Egyptian families constitutes its most important dimension, especially women and youth by controlling the accelerated growth rates and upgrading the characteristics of the population.
However, these efforts must always be accompanied by raising the awareness of young people who are about to marry on family planning and introducing the benefits of having a small family. Raising awareness of the significance of family planning and reproductive health services for newlyweds has proved to have a positive and direct impact on the health of the mother, children, and the whole family.
Most of the awareness campaigns carried out by different stakeholders of young people, including school and university students, and conscripts, however, the category of factory labour did not receive sufficient attention from these activities.
According to a 2018 report by the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS), there were about 2.6 million female and male factory workers, most of who were of childbearing age. The percentage of women in some sectors such as ready-made garments is more than 50%. If we stop in front of these percentages of young people working in factories, it becomes clear to us the urgent need to divert our efforts towards advocating this significant category and provide reproductive health services to them by raising awareness and providing medical services.
Expanding private sector’s role
Accordingly the Population Council invited the Population and Family Planning Sector at the Ministry of Health and Population to present the results of the project “Strengthening the Role of the Private Sector in Providing Reproductive Health Services to Youth in Egypt,” that is implemented by the Population Council, in cooperation with the Port Fouad Association for Family and Child Care, and with the support of the United States Agency for International Development, to meet the reproductive health and family planning needs of young factory workers in the investment zone in Port Said, in an attempt to support the National Family Planning Program in reaching this influential population segment in Egypt.
Nahla Abdel-Tawab, Population Council’s Country Director, stressed the importance of providing family planning and reproductive health services to workers in industrial facilities (factory workers), which represents a strategic intervention to reach a large segment of young people at the beginning of their married life or those who are about to get married, in order to spread more awareness, provide advice and promote the use of family planning methods as well as discussing the adoption of the concept of the small family, which in return helps in implementing the state’s plans in limiting population growth and advancing social and economic prosperity.
Hossam Abbas, head of the Population and Family Planning Sector at the Ministry of Health, explained that the national plan for the development of the Egyptian family includes the economic empowerment of women as a main pillar. He stressed the importance of coordinating efforts between all concerned parties with the aim of raising the awareness of factory owners on providing the necessary medical services with quality and efficiency and integrating them within the health care services package and the public health system within the industrial establishments, as well as helping workers to meet their needs for reproductive health services, family planning and preventing them from some diseases.
Tackling overpopulation challenges
The study prepared by the Population Council revealed that one of the main methods to tackle the overpopulation challenge is increasing access to family planning services which requires leveraging the roles of different stakeholders. This includes promoting the role of the private sector in the provision of family planning services and supplies which holds great potential to effectively meet the current and future family planning needs of millions of Egyptian women. A large segment of these women could be better reached, when both the private and public sectors cooperate in providing family planning services.