Egyptian govt encourages women to avoid pregnancy during COVID-19

Egyptian health workers collect samples at a drive-through coronavirus- testing center at the Ain Shams University in Cairo on Monday. (AFP)
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Updated 30 June 2020

Egyptian govt encourages women to avoid pregnancy during COVID-19

  • The ministry explained that health units provided various birth control methods, including the Implanon capsule, a long-term method that lasts for three years

CAIRO: The Ministry of Health in Egypt has called on women to postpone their pregnancies because of the coronavirus.
The ministry issued a statement saying that delaying pregnancy during the spread of COVID-19 was a necessity. It said new discoveries have linked the virus to blood clots that may affect the placenta and the fetus’ nutrition.
The statement said that pregnancy may cause the indirect weakening of the immune system, making pregnant women vulnerable to the virus.
“Use of contraceptives can be used to temporarily prevent pregnancy,” the statement said.
The ministry also underlined the significance of staying active, relaxed and rested during the pregnancy. It said walking was considered the best form of exercise for pregnant women but that during the spread of the coronavirus it was not recommended that pregnant women leave home except for absolute necessities to avoid infection.
The ministry explained that health units provided various birth control methods, including the Implanon capsule, a long-term method that lasts for three years. The capsule can be implanted easily and without a surgical procedure by specialized doctors in less than three minutes.
The ministry confirmed that the capsule is suitable for most women as well as breastfeeding mothers, and is sold for five Egyptian pounds ($0.30).
Egyptian doctor Zainab Abdel-Meguid, 40, said that the Health Ministry’s statement was correct but should have been issued earlier, when the virus initially emerged in Egypt in February, given the extreme risk that a pregnant woman may face.
Government employee Wagida Abdel-Latif said that the government’s announcement was important due to an already overwhelmed Egyptian health care system and its inability to accommodate patients who are suffering from the coronavirus.
Abdel-Latif is a mother of two, but said that even if she was not a mother she would have responded to the government’s request to postpone getting pregnant for her own safety and the safety of her future children.
Mervat Abdel-Karim, 29, does not agree with the ministry’s decision. She told Arab News that she is newly married, and that she disagrees with the ministry’s request because she wants to become a mother. Abdel-Karim’s husband shares her view as he wants to become a father.
Housewife Gamila Saeed has been trying to become pregnant for 14 years. But when she finally became pregnant, during her ninth month of pregnancy fears increased about her losing the fetus because of the virus.
The isolation hospital in the village of Sinbillawain, in Daqahlia governorate in north Cairo, witnessed a birth days before the mother’s isolation period ended.
Dr. Mohamed El-Surugi, director of Al-Sinbillawain Hospital, explained that pregnant women suffering from the coronavirus are placed under continuous care even if the patient’s condition is stable, especially if the patient is nearing the end of her pregnancy.
He said that the patient’s condition remained stable while she was receiving treatment by the medical staff checking on the health of the fetus.
El-Surugi said that the delivery was supposed to be by caesarean due to the condition of the woman and the fetus, but the patient felt severe pain before her scheduled caesarean section, forcing the medical team to perform the operation earlier than expected.
Before childbirth a smear was taken from the woman to test if she was still carrying the virus. During the operation, preventive measures were taken to ensure her safety and that of the baby. After the operation, the smear results came back negative, much to the joy of the medical staff.

Turkish president denies country has a ‘Kurdish issue’

Updated 26 November 2020

Turkish president denies country has a ‘Kurdish issue’

  • Erdogan defended the removal of 59 out of 65 elected Kurdish mayors from their posts
  • Erdogan's lack of sensitivity to the Kurdish issue could inflame tensions with Kurds in Syria and Iraq: analyst

ANKARA: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan denied the country has a “Kurdish issue,” even as he doubled down on his anti-Kurdish stance and accused a politician of being a “terrorist who has blood on his hands.”

Erdogan was addressing members of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) on Nov. 25 when he made the remarks.

The Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) launched an insurgency against the state in 1984, and is designated a terrorist group by Turkey, the European Union and US. Erdogan accuses the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) of links to the PKK, which it denies.

Erdogan told AKP members that Selahattin Demirtas, the HDP’s former co-chair who challenged him in the 2015 presidential elections, was a “terrorist who has blood on his hands.”

Demirtas has been behind bars since Nov. 4, 2016, despite court orders calling for his release and faces hundreds of years in prison over charges related to the outlawed PKK.

The president defended the removal of 59 out of 65 elected Kurdish mayors from their posts in the country's Kurdish-majority southeast region since local elections in March 2019.

He also said the AKP would design and implement democratization reforms with its nationalistic coalition partner, which is known for its anti-Kurdish credentials.  

His words are likely to disrupt the peace efforts that Turkey has been making with its Kurdish community for years, although they have been baby steps. They could also hint at a tougher policy shift against Kurds in Syria and Iraq.

According to Oxford University Middle East analyst Samuel Ramani, Erdogan’s comments should be read as a reaction to Tuesday’s resignation of top presidential aide Bulent Arinc, who urged for Demirtas to be released and insisted that the Kurds were repressed within Turkey.

“This gained widespread coverage in the Kurdish media, including in Iraqi Kurdistan's outlet Rudaw which has international viewership,” he told Arab News. “Erdogan wanted to stop speculation on this issue.”

Ramani said that Erdogan's lack of sensitivity to the Kurdish issue could inflame tensions with Kurds in Syria and Iraq.

“It is also an oblique warning to US President-elect Joe Biden not to try to interfere in Turkish politics by raising the treatment of Kurds within Turkey.”

But Erdogan’s comments would matter little in the long run, he added.

“Much more will depend on whether Turkey mounts another Operation Peace Spring-style offensive in northern Syria, which is a growing possibility. If that occurs during the Trump to Biden transition period, the incoming Biden administration could be more critical of Turkey and convert its rhetoric on solidarity with the Kurds into action.”

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces have been a key partner for the US in its fight against Daesh. During a campaign speech in Oct. 2019, Biden criticized the US decision to withdraw from Syria as a “complete failure” that would leave Syrian Kurds open to aggression from Turkey.

“It’s more insidious than the betrayal of our brave Kurdish partners, it’s more dangerous than taking the boot off the neck of ISIS,” Biden said at the time.

UK-based analyst Bill Park said that Erdogan was increasingly influenced by his coalition partners, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).

“He might also believe that both the PKK and the HDP have been so weakened that he doesn't have to take them into consideration,” he told Arab News. “The Western world will not respond dramatically to this announcement but they are tired of Erdogan. There is little hope that Turkey's relations with the US or the EU can be much improved. The Syrian Kurdish PYD militia are seeking an accommodation with Damascus, while the Kurdistan Democratic Party, the largest party in Iraqi Kurdistan, is indifferent to the fate of Turkey's Kurds and has problems of its own.”

The HDP, meanwhile, is skeptical about Erdogan’s reform pledges and sees them as “politicking.”

“This reform narrative is not sincere,” said HDP lawmaker Meral Danis Bestas, according to a Reuters news agency report. “This is a party which has been in power for 18 years and which has until now totally trampled on the law. It has one aim: To win back the support which has been lost.”

Turkey’s next election is scheduled for 2023, unless there is a snap election in a year.