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The Ministry of Health and Population's Undersecretary in Matrouh and Head of Matrouh Health Directorate Dr. Ahmed El-Beltagy welcomed UNFPA’s efforts to end preventable maternal deaths and scale up family planning projects in the governorate, in a meeting held with a delegation from UNFPA last week.

The meeting discussed UNFPA’s innovation project to end preventable maternal deaths in Siwa and the EU Support to Egypt’s National Population Strategy project.

“Leaving no one behind is a main priority,” Dr. Aleksandar Bodiroza, UNFPA Representative in Egypt, always stresses, “Especially women in Siwa.”

Consequently, one of the important projects UNFPA Egypt Country Office is working on aims at breaking through maternal health bottlenecks in Siwa to end preventable maternal deaths.

“The challenge in Siwa is finding a way to safely transfer women to a health facility,” Dr. El-Beltagy said.

Siwa is situated in the Western Desert, one of the most remote areas in Egypt, increasing its vulnerability and capacity to provide quality health services. Women have to travel 300 km to reach the nearest medical facility. In most of the cases, the mothers reach the facility late.

The initiative, however, hopes to bring the maternal health services to women by designing an application that connects service providers in Siwa and ambulance attendants to expert facilities in Matrouh through video calls. It aims to also empower health service providers to provide basic emergency obstetric care, through a customized mobile application that connects them with other health service providers, and provides essential information on care, as well as relevant protocols in place.

This project is being implemented under a worldwide UNFPA Innovation bootcamp, where country offices’ teams design, rapidly prototype and test their proposed solution’s potential over a 6-month “design sprint” from June to December 2020.

Maha Abdel Wanis, UNFPA Sexual and Reproductive Health Programme Specialist, also briefed Dr. El-Beltagy on the EU Support to Egypt's National Population Strategy project. Dr. Beltagy was especially interested in Al-Wessam accreditation system.

The EU Support to Egypt's National Population Strategy project is funded by the European Union and aims at increasing the use of voluntary, rights-based family planning.

“The most common gap is that some projects focus more on training,” Abdel Wanis explained. “We focus on all pillars, such as training, increasing demand, and quality of services.”

Al-Wessam System assesses family planning units across Egypt based on a set of indicators and criteria set by the Ministry of Health and Population and awards them based on their score.

Dr. El-Beltagy praised UNFPA’s efforts and added that during his visits to family planning units, he was introduced to the decision-making tool, which he found very practical, and was pleased to know that it was developed by UNFPA.

This tool ensures effective counselling for family planning methods, where beneficiary sees a simple picture about the method under discussion, and on the other side, the service providers see the explanatory notes they use to talk to the beneficiary.