Egypt is likely to face a drop in birth rate in the period following the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, according to Dr Tarek Tawfik, Deputy Minister of Health for Population Affairs.
The anticipated drop in births is set to come off the back of a more general change in family behaviours, whether it is marriage, divorce or childbearing.
Tawfik noted that the pandemic may cause a sharp birth rate drop in the nine months following the spread of the pandemic.
In a statement on Sunday, Tawfik explained that the main reasons behind the expected drop in birth rates may be due to fears of losing jobs, and health concerns related to the virus.The closure of healthcare facilities or the restricting of services provided when the burden on health systems increases are also thought to be factors.
The Ministry of Health, on Sunday, reported 1,218 new coronavirus cases, raising the country’s total number of infections to 75,253. The number of fatalities has also increased by 63 to reach 3,343 in total. A total of 20,726 cases have recovered and been discharged from hospitals after receiving the required medical treatment.
“Many parents believe that a pandemic is inappropriate for having children. Women, in particular, hesitate about a pregnancy due to fear of the future, psychological pressure, fear of infection, and the economic crisis such as losing work and working from home for less pay,” Tawfik added.
The deputy minister anticipates that a baby boom will, however, follow the crisis, and is expected to revive Egypt’s birth rates.He pointed to the surge in births in Sweden and Norway in the first five years following the 1918 influenza pandemic.
To avoid this expected baby boom, family planning efforts should be put in place, in addition to increased awareness on the topic, Tawfik said.
He noted that he expects three scenarios for the baby boom, according to Egypt’s population expectations.
The first expected scenario is uncontrolled overpopulation that will see a total reproductive rate of 3.5 children per woman. Under this scenario, Egypt’s population will reach 183 million in 2050.
In the second scenario, it is expected that the total fertility rate will remain stable at the current 3.07 children per woman that will see Egypt’spopulation rise to about 160 million in 2050.
According to Tawfik, the third scenario relies on the success of the national population strategy, which aims for a total population of 152 million in 2050. In this instance, a reproductive rate of 3.5 children per woman would need to be achieved.