FILE - Minister of Health Ahmed Emad el-Din Rady
CAIRO – 6 February 2018: Egypt is one of the most populous countries in the Middle East as the birth rate is constantly increasing, although universal family planning methods are widely promoted. There are many reasons why women are reluctant to practice family planning.
National Population Council (NPC) Rapporteur Atef al-Shitani said that 41 percent of women do not follow birth control methods and only 59 percent are using contraception.
The 2014 Demographic and Health (EDH) Survey indicates that the fertility rate has significantly increased after more than 20 years of decline. Between 1980 and 2008, the fertility rate dropped from 5.3 children per woman to 3.0 children per woman. However, since 2008, the fertility rate has risen (by half a child) to 3.5 births after experiencing a plateau of 3 births for years (3.8 in rural areas, 2.9 in urban areas).
Al-Shitani confirms that there are barriers affecting the utilization of family planning methods such as the unjust religious misconception as some believe that religion is opposed to family planning program. Other reasons are the spread of incorrect information about the family planning program and their spouses' rejection to use contraceptives. For example, some believe that contraception causes diseases.
He further remarked that religious preachers contribute in the low rates of contraceptive use, convincing women that these methods are prohibited in religion.
He added that the Ministry of Health aims to provide 50,000 preachers with an essential training to raise awareness of the negative impact of population growth.
In this regard, Deputy Minister of Health and Population, Tarek Mohammed Tawfiq, said that the Ministry of Health is working on tackling the population growth issue, particularly in governorates suffering from rapidly increasing population rates, by promoting education and providing job opportunities for women.
Tawfiq added that the ministry will urge the Awqaf minister to formulate a cooperation protocol for religious preachers to raise awareness about the risks of high population growth rates He also pointed out that religious extremists play a role in the decline of women using the family planning methods.
Furthermore, Minister of Health, Ahmed Emad, stressed in press statements in December 2017 that plans are set to decrease the growth rates based on President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi’s plan to provide modern methods for family planning.