SEATTLE, Washington — In the past five years, humanitarian organizations like the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has provided Egyptian women with health initiatives that simultaneously advocate and provide Egyptian women with reproductive and maternal rights. As a result of these efforts, the Egyptian healthcare job market continues to grow, particularly for female employees. With the rise of women’s healthcare centers in Egypt, more than 14,000 community workers have entered the healthcare sector.
Egypt’s Public Healthcare System
Egypt is one of the most densely populated countries in the Mediterranean and North African region. However, in 2018, the Egyptian government only spent 4.75% of its GDP on its public healthcare system. The Egyptian government has 10 sectors in its healthcare system. From these sectors, only one represents women, the sector for population and family planning implemented in 2018. Due to years of underfunded health care centers and health education initiatives, many Egyptian mothers and women cannot access education, care and support for their reproductive, sexual and maternal health.
However, shortly after the sector for family planning was created, health minister Hala Zayed provided $19 million to a five-year women’s healthcare program that screens and provides care to women with HIV, Hepatitis C, Influenza, and other diseases. Zayed also stated that as of June 2019, obstetrician-gynecologist clinics would serve more than 2.4 million women. Both of these programs were available to all women living in Egypt through the public health sector.
Egyptian Ministry’s 100 Million Initiative
Focused on bringing more women pre and post-natal care disease detection and reproductive and sexual services, the Egyptian Ministry of Health has been routinely implementing both instantaneous and long-term programs to reprioritize women’s rights in the Egyptian healthcare system. One of the more recent projects the health minister Hala Zayed has seen success with is the 100 Million Initiative. This initiative would provide 100 million women with free medical examinations through 2020.
Since its implementation in July 2019, the initiative examined more than 4.16 million Egyptian women. Through these examinations, more than 2.2 million women were screened and diagnosed with breast cancer at the new women’s health service sites across urban and rural Egypt. In January 2020, the health ministry confirmed that the examination initiative would continue into 2020, among other new health programs centered around women’s health.
With such outstanding results in its effectiveness and the ecstatic response from Egyptian women, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi also launched the “Maternal Health Initiative” in January 2020. The initiative provided 5,300 new women’s health facilities across Egypt, allocating the most maternal care for Egyptian women than ever before in history.
USAID as a Trusting Partner
The USAID has maintained an alliance with the Egyptian Ministry of Health to implement disease prevention and treatment services for Egyptian women and small children. Such measures will help those affected with diseases such as HIV, Hepatitis C and Avian Influenza, all significant contributors to early newborn and maternal immortality rates. In Egypt, the USAID projects aim to abolish Hepatitis C by 2023 through disease awareness prevention, research, and testing citizens through the public health sector.
From December 2017 until December 2022, the government will dedicate $19.2 million to boost the public sector’s family planning programs as overpopulation is at the front of Egypt’s unemployment and poverty crisis. Investing in family planning is an investment for Egyptian women and children alike, strengthening the bond that the Egyptian mother has to herself and her child.
Continuous Fight for Women’s Rights
Although women’s health care access in Egypt is changing, the country needs to continue its efforts in providing essential health services to all citizens, including women and children. Egypt’s health ministry and Hala Zayed have made significant strides in establishing responsibility in the Egyptian government for women’s health care rights. With future initiatives in the works, women’s health in Egypt will only continue to grow.