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Premarital examination in Egypt: A positive step forward

Egypt's Health Minister Hala Zayed speaks during a news conference. (Reuters/File Photo)
Egypt's Health Minister Hala Zayed speaks during a news conference. (Reuters/File Photo)
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26 Feb 2023 09:02:57 GMT9
26 Feb 2023 09:02:57 GMT9

Mohammed Shamaa

  • Patient directed to counseling clinic if positive result recorded
  • ‘Tests will be necessary before completing marriage contract,’ says Health Ministry spokesman

CAIRO: A new health initiative has begun in Egypt to conduct medical examinations for those who are about to get married, to help reduce the risk of having unhealthy children.

The Egyptian Ministry of Health and Population confirmed in a statement that the examination takes about an hour, and includes registering personal data, along with issuing advice.

“The examinations include 10 tests, including AIDS, virus C, and virus B, and they also include tests of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, hemoglobin level in the blood, blood type, and a compatibility analysis, and the analysis of Mediterranean anemia (thalassemia),” the ministry said.

Questions regarding the initiative flooded social media, with many fearing the marriage being prevented if the test results were positive.

Health Ministry spokesman Hossam Abdel Ghaffar told Arab News: “The tests will be necessary before completing the marriage contract, with the aim of preventing the birth of children with genetic diseases, as they should be performed before the marriage official begins the marriage contract.

“The tests do not prevent the completion of the marriage contract, but rather they aim to educate those about to get married about their health and the extent to which one of them is infected with any diseases that may affect the newborns.

“If the results of the tests are positive or there is infection with viral diseases, the patient is directed to the counseling clinic, in which the patient is educated about the disease and methods of treatment and psychological support.

“After that, the infected person is transferred to specialized clinics to provide the necessary medical service. The spouses will then sign the results of the tests in front of an authorized person.”

Abdel Ghaffar said that “these examinations can be conducted in 303 Health Ministry centers. They are the only ones authorized to conduct these at the current stage.”

He added: “A health database will be created for Egyptian citizens, and the certificates that are issued are secured through QR codes.”

Ahmed Shaaban, a professor of psychiatry at Al-Azhar University, told Arab News: “Premarital examinations are useful in early detection of reproductive and infectious diseases.

“All the different analysis of those about to get married are very important, because this procedure does not cause psychological destruction to the two parties, but rather is a preventive warning to live after marriage successfully.

“Health knowledge and psychological rehabilitation are very important for a successful marriage, and their absence might cause an increase in divorce rates.”

Shaaban called on those planning to get married to take the tests “because they will help unlock access to a society free of genetic diseases.”

Attorney Mostafa Helmy told Arab News: “The penalty for falsifying the results of premarital examinations is the same as the penalty for forgery.

“The Egyptian penal code criminalizes forgery and its penalty could reach up to 10 years in prison.”

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