Abla Ibrahim is educated by a Community Health Worker about how to stay healthy during pregnancy. Photo credit: Save the Children Egypt.

For six years after her marriage, Abla Ibrahim, from the village of Ezbet Zanaty in Assuit tried to have a baby with no success. She got pregnant eight times and every time her pregnancy ended in a miscarriage during the early months. Abla was encouraged by her neighbours to join health education sessions conducted by Save the Children to help women in her village improve their pregnancy outcomes. Abla joined these sessions and learnt from Community Health Workers how to take care of herself before, during and after pregnancy and how to detect pregnancy risk signs and to ask for medical help. Abla got pregnant again, but this time she knew how to take care of herself well, and was very happy when she delivered her first baby.

Community Health Workers have taught Abla about the importance of good nutrition for the development of the mind and body of her family and how to provide good affordable nutritious food for her children. She also learnt how to care for her personal cleanliness and hygiene and that of her family.

Neonatal mortality rate  (per 1,000 live births) (2011) 7
Under-five mortality rate (per 1,000 live births) (2011) 21
Maternal mortality ratio (per 100,000 live births) (2010) 66
Number of doctors, nurses and midwives per 10,000 people (2010) 63.5
Births attended by skilled personnel (2008) 76.9%
Total expenditure on health as a percentage of gross domestic product (2011) 4.9%
General government expenditure on health as a percentage of total expenditure on health (2011) 40.5%

Egypt has been engaged in improving the performance of its health services for the past 15 years and is on track to attain the health MDGs. Approximately half of the population is covered by the Health Insurance Organization (HIO), and free public services are also available for the poor. However, half of the population report out-of-pocket costs at the point of service.

Geographical and gender inequalities remain an issue. Undernutrition, infectious disease and injuries are among the common causes of death among children. The Every One Campaign in Assiut, Egypt is training Community Health Workers to deliver health and nutrition information to families in order to improve maternal health and preventing childhood illnesses and deaths. Read more about this programme here .

The country has traditionally produced numbers of health workers above regional averages, but further improving access to and quality of services, particularly for the poor and for rural populations, will require sustained efforts to address imbalances in skills-mix, improve geographical distribution through better working conditions, and even greater focus on investing in required equipment, and ensuring uniform quality of education. A sector reform program initiated in 1997 and due to continue through 2018 aims at progressing towards UHC, including by “investing in human resources development”.

Areas for improvement targeting education institutions include reducing overcrowding, increasing financial resources, upgrading training infrastructure and equipment, improving faculty members’ skills, updating curricula, strengthening formal evaluation and accreditation mechanisms. Efforts to address these challenges are conducted under The Higher Education Enhancement Project Fund.

Download the full country profile here.