Egypt’s parliament discusses measures to defuse population bomb

In a meeting held on Sunday, the Egyptian parliament’s defence and national security committee recommended that strict measures be taken on all state levels to stem the runaway population growth in Egypt.

“The population of Egypt is increasing at a fast pace, and all measures should be taken to contain this phenomenon in order for the country to be able to face economic challenges in the years ahead,” said the head of the committee Kamal Amer.

According to official figures, Egypt’s population stands at almost 100 million, and that the population is increasing by 2.5 million every year.

Amer said the committee is being mobilised to support the state’s strategy in birth control and family planning.

“We have so far held six meetings, and today we had another one to propose strict measures that aim to defuse the population bomb in Egypt,” said Amer.

“Media campaigns aimed at raising the awareness of citizens of the dangers of the country’s population explosion have no longer become sufficient, and now it is high time for strict measures to be taken to contain this phenomenon.

“Topping the list of these measures is that early marriage, particularly in rural areas, should be criminalised, and that Mazouns (persons officially authorised to conduct the marriage contract) who supervise this marriage should be penalised.”

“We told the government that in addition to these strict measures, girls below 18 years in age should not be allowed to marry,” Amer said.

“At the same time MPs also recommend a package of positive incentives to be offered to families to help them accept birth control services voluntarily.”

“We proposed that medical health clinics in all of Egypt offer women different options for birth control to plan the timing of pregnancy and have just two kids,” said Amer, adding that “these options include birth control pills and other methods.”

“We recommended that families who have one child should be granted greater incentives such as exemptions from school fees and obtaining life insurance for free.

“Families who refuse to follow birth control measures should not be allowed to receive any kind of cash or in-kind subsidies,” Amer added.

Egypt’s Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly announced on 22 November that “the government has decided not to give any kind of monetary subsidies to families with three children.”

“Those who will be entitled to receive such subsidies will be the families with only two kids,” said Madbouly, adding that “it is unfair that big families who refuse to abide by birth control measures receive subsidies.”

“We will target these families, and all should know that the runaway growth of population is a big threat to the economic development in this country.”

Amer said that “the committee stressed that the government should seek the help of religious clerics, both Muslim and Christian, to promote birth control measures in all governorates and stand up to the population problem.”

“Religious clerics should tell people that the government is not aiming to prevent birth, but just to achieve family planning in order for the country to be able to raise economic growth development rates,” said Amer.

He added that MPs recommended that the ministries of education and higher education play a greater role in implementing the new birth control strategy.

“We want education curriculums to include lessons on birth control, the benefits of small families, and the dangers of early marriage on health,” said Amer.

Amer said the Takaful and Karama programme being implemented by Ministry of Social Solidarity is doing a good job in spreading the culture of birth control.

“This programme is based on the slogan ‘Two Kids is Enough,’ and offers many incentives for women and families in the Nile Delta and Upper Egypt governorates to feel the benefits of birth control.”

Meanwhile, parliament’s health affairs committee voted in a Sunday meeting in favour of a grant agreement between Egypt and the US on birth control programmes.

According to the first amendment of the agreement, Egypt will receive an assistance grant from the US government valued at $11 million.

The agreement aims to support Egypt’s current birth control programme to make it more efficient and permanent.

“To help achieve this objective, the agreement will help offer all the tools necessary to make birth control measures more appealing to families, provide training needed to improve family planning services in health units, and conduct a demographic survey of Egypt in 2018 to collect reliable and high quality data on population and health in Egypt,” said the agreement contract.

Source: Ahram Online

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