Egypt’s Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education supported by President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi initiated a new campaign to screen school students. Aiming to detect and fight anemia, dwarfism, and obesity nationwide, this campaign started on February the 17th and should last till the end of April.
The announcement was made during a joint press conference between the ministries of health and education. The Minister of Health and Population, Hala Zayed, stated that this screening is going to target almost 12 million students aged between six and 12 at 22,000 public, private, and Azhar schools. Zayed also explained that about 4,420 medical teams and 225 clinics are being involved in the campaign. She also clarified that those students who are in need of treatment will be referred to a health insurance clinic to receive a free of charge service.
The campaign will be executed over three phases; the first phase will take place in Fayoum, Damietta, Asyut, Matrouh, Port Said, South Sinai, Qalyubia, Beheira, Alexandria, Giza, and Qina. The second phase will take place in Cairo, Suez, Aswan, and Luxor. Finally, the last phase will take place in Daqahliyah, Sharqeya, Gharbeya, Minya, and the New Valley.
The first two phases will respectively screen five million students first then the remaining three million, and as for the dropouts, the Ministry of Health is going to collaborate with the Ministry of Interior to carry out check-ups for them. The campaign will be operated according to international standards, and the Minister of Education, Tarek Shawky, insisted that the screening is obligatory and the parents who don’t cooperate and refuse to subject their children to medical examinations will be condemned.
Anemia and obesity are common diseases in Egypt and are highly prevalent among the younger generation. In 2010, a research was made across Egypt’s rural and urban areas and got published in 2015 by IOSR Journal of Pharmacy. It revealed that 35.3% of school children between the age of five and 12 are suffering from anemia.
Anemia is not the only prevalent health problem in Egypt; reports stated that obesity has actually tripled within the last 30 years. A research was conducted in the Menofia governorate by the Menofia Media Journal which concluded that almost 20% of school children between the age of six and 12 struggle with obesity.
And although dwarfism is a genetic disorder, in some cases, it’s due to the insufficient amounts of growth hormones. The Egyptian Journal of Medical Human Genetics stated that 16.8% of children between the age of 18 and younger have dwarfism. This national campaign is aiming to help parents in identifying these diseases from early stages, and to offer them treatment for their children to better their health.
Moreover, Minister Hala Zayed is also encouraging the civil societies to help raise awareness regarding nutrition and the importance of delivering healthy food to low-income families. She also announced that a new campaign will be launched soon nationwide to spread awareness regarding public health, healthy lifestyles, and the importance of breastfeeding.