The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has supported the opening of a family planning clinic at the Ain Shams university hospital, in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Population.
The opening ceremony, held on 23 September, was attended by UNFPA Representative Frederika Meijer and Head of the Ministry of Health and Population’s Family Planning Sector, Hossam Abbas.
The clinic is set to offer family planning and reproductive health services, with university hospitals being a significant service delivery point and an important partner in supporting the efforts of the National Family Planning Programme.
Meijer expressed her delight to conduct her first visit to a family planning clinic in Egypt since she took the helm of the UNFPA Egypt Country office. She also lauded the partnership between UNFPA, the Ministry of Health and Population and university hospitals in supporting family planning efforts in Egypt.
“It is important for women to be aware of the different contraceptive methods available to them, while understanding when and if possible side effects occur,” she said, “Family planning counseling is vital in bringing unmet need for family planning down to zero.”
According to Abbas, university hospitals usually receive many women who are there to deliver their babies. “It is therefore an integral party to offer reproductive health and family planning services, that’s why the Ministry of Health and Population has to coordinate with it,” he said.
The Ministry of Health and Population signed a protocol this year with the Ministry of Higher Education to build the capacities of service providers in university hospitals, provide contraceptives, and open new service delivery points in university hospitals.
Under this protocol, 26 family planning clinics were opened in university hospitals.
Rehab Abdel Rahman, OBGYN assistant professor and deputy head of the Ain Shams OBGYN Hospital, also highlighted the important role university hospitals play in supporting the family planning program.
“Many women frequent the hospital since we are a tertiary hospital,” she said. “This means pregnant women pay us visits.”
She explained that the outpatient clinics at the Ain Shams University Hospitals receive over 200 patients every day.
“Offering services in a place with that many women, increases our chances in promoting family planning,” she concluded.
Nasser El-Kholy, Professor of OBGYN at Ain Shams University, echoed Abdel Rahman’s statements.
“A real national family planning program cannot be implemented by the Ministry of Health and Population alone,” he explained, “it has to work hand in hand with university hospitals.”
El-Kholy encouraged using the millions of patients that frequent university hospitals as “an entry point for messages on family planning,” alongside awareness and media campaigns.
In his meeting with Meijer, Dr. Ayman Aboul Nour, Head of the Ain Shams OBGYN Hospital, relayed efforts to revive family planning activities, including counseling and raising awareness, as well as postpartum care.
Aboul Nour said that doctors are encouraged on “shared decision-making” with women seeking contraception, along with their “informed consent.”
The Ain Shams clinic is one of six clinics in university hospitals that UNFPA supported across Egypt in 2020, including Al-Qasr Al-Ainy, Banha, Beni Suef, Qena, and Aswan.