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Joint Statement: The EU and UNFPA stand by Egypt in its fight against COVID-19

If we cannot stress enough how important handwashing, social distancing and wearing masks are to fight the spread of the pandemic, we, the UNFPA and the EU, want today, on the occasion of the National Population Day, to bring the attention of the general public to the potential impact of the pandemic on reproductive health and how we stand by the Egyptian government to safeguard it.

Reproductive health lies indeed at the very heart of people’s overall physical, mental and social wellbeing. As such, it needs all our attention, especially when the COVID-19 pandemic has been disrupting global supply chains and impacting the availability of contraceptives, heightening, in turn, the risk of unintended pregnancies.

The EU and UNFPA in Egypt have together been supporting the family planning sector since 2018 through the EU Support to Egypt’s National Population Strategy project that runs until 2022. The project, funded by the EU with a budget of 27 million euros, aims at increasing the use of voluntary, rights-based family planning, and supports the Ministry of Health’s Family Planning Sector.

The adaptation of the project to the pandemic includes adopting new measures and adjustments in order to ensure the continuity of family planning services in Egypt. In that regard, since the onset of the pandemic, the EU and UNFPA have specifically delivered personal protective equipment (PPE) to family planning clinics across the country worth €70,000. In addition, more PPEs are currently being procured and will be distributed to the health workforce. More generally, the EU and UNFPA are intent on the continuity of the supply of contraceptives, and are procuring over $9 million worth of contraceptives to be delivered to health units over the project’s 5-year duration.

One of the National Population Strategy’s main objectives being to educate young people and raise their awareness, the project is supporting several youth activities, including the production of a podcast by young people for young people. In that regard, Peer Cast is being developed by Y-PEER, UNFPA’s youth leadership network. Peer Cast features health experts answering the most pressing questions about COVID-19, as well as other topics related to reproductive health and family planning.

The project is also supporting mental health webinars, awareness raising videos, as well as COVID-19 awareness live sessions in order to help young people cope with stress, as well as to make informed choices when it comes to their health, including reproductive health.

Altogether, the COVID-19 outbreak has pushed us to further accelerate our action and keep the momentum to ensure that our community-based services continue to reach those who need them most.

Today, on the National Population Day, let us continue to prioritize reproductive health needs including family planning in order to ensure the sustained attention and investment they deserve.