On 12 June 2008, a presidential decree regarding the Child Law was issued. The decree included two main articles, increasing the minimum age of marriage for males and females to 18 years, and the establishment of premarital testing and counselling as a precondition to issue a marriage certificate. Based on this decree, the Minister of Health and Population was entitled to enforce and execute its content.
Since the law was passed, UNFPA was involved through supporting a steering committee on premarital examination. The committee consisted of representatives of the Ministry of Health and Population, academic institutions and universities, civil society and religious leaders.
The role of the committee was to come up with a draft of the components to be included in the premarital testing and counselling. After a series of meetings, and a comprehensive discussion and experience-sharing process, the committee recommended the following:
- Obligatory tests should include a complete blood picture, RH factor in the blood and urine analysis, whereas additional tests could be requested based on history taking, counselling and consent of the couple.
- Necessary vaccinations should be taken by the couple, including Hepatitis B vaccine, Rubella vaccine and folic acid pills for the female.
- Premarital counselling, to include counselling on such topics as nutrition, harmful behavior and misconceptions regarding sexual and reproductive health, married life and responsibilities of the married couple, intimate relations and budgeting for the family.
Based on the recommendations of the law passed, and the recommendations of the steering committee, UNFPA supports the Ministry of Health in developing training manuals and toolkits and in conducting training-of-trainers activities for physicians all over Egypt in collaboration with the Regional Center for Training. The physicians are supported by the Ministry of Health in conducting trainings of service providers in their respective governorates, ensuring the quality of the services provided to the new married couples.