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Family planning: three Egyptian women


APRIL 5, 1994

Family planning: three Egyptian women

By Ashali Varma

TALMIA, Egypt– Soria has lived here all her life.  This village in Upper Egypt located in the Governorate of Qena has a just over 5,000 people and is one of the poorer districts in Egypt.  Soria is 24 years old and has three children.  She was married at 16 and is pregnant with her fourth child.

When she heard that a mobile, clinic to look after mothers and counsel wives on family planning and pre-natal care was coming to her village she came for a check-up.  She says she is really happy that the government is providing this service because she cannot afford private clinics.  Even though she had only a fourth grade education she is determined that her seven-year-old daughter finishes school.

Through television and extensive media campaigns the government of Egypt has achieved progress in its family planning programs that is rare in other countries of the Middle East and Africa.  One of the more innovative projects is the mobile clinics for family planning and maternal and child health-care, which started with the help of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the Aluminum Company of Egypt and the National Population Council (NPC). JICA donated two mobile clinics equipped with the latest technology including an Ultra Sound Scanner and helped to train personnel.  The Aluminum Company of Egypt bears all the operational costs and provides the doctors and nurses.

According to Dr.Mohamed El Hawry, the director of the project, for a village to qualify for a mobile clinic it has to have a population of at least 5,000 and should not have existing health units.  In addition the villagers have to agree to have the village hall used as a waiting room on the days that the mobile clinic visit’s the village.  Patients pay a nominal charge of one Egyptian pound (about 30 cents) and the facilities offered are prenatal care, reproductive care, fertility and a “well baby” clinic.  The two clinics serve 12 villages and visit the same village at least once a week.  Dr Maher Mahran, Egypt’s Minister for Population and Family Welfare, said, “We hope to expand these services to other areas, to the poorer districts and remote villages.”

In the nearby city of Qena, NPC has a Clinic Service Improvement Center which provides the same services to women from urban areas.  Thany Kasim Abed Rahim, 32, is a mother of four.  She was 18 when she got married.  She has been on an IUD to space out her pregnancies.  Her doctor, a gentle looking woman in her thirties, helped her to choose a contraceptive that suited her.  Thany said she likes Dr. Janette and is comfortable with a female doctor.  She is keen for her 12 year-old daughter to finish high school and have a profession and would like her to marry after the age of 22.

Nawal Abd Hamid is married to Thany’s brother.  She was only 13 when she got married to a machinist and has four children.  Now at 29 she has decided not have any more and is on the IUD.  Both women learnt about family planning from television commercials and decided to visit the clinic for advice.

Dr. Mahran said, “In the area of family planning and health care for women.  I would like to see Egypt becoming a donor to other countries in the Middle East and Africa. I think we are well equipped to provide technical help and expertise.