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Jun 23, 2009
Female circumcision decreasing among young women in Egypt

Cairo, Egypt. While over 90% of Egyptian women age 15-49 have been circumcised, the 2008 Egypt Demographic and Health Survey (EDHS) indicates that female circumcision rates are declining and that support for the practice is waning.

Four in five (81%) young women age 15-19 have been circumcised compared to 94% of women age 24-29. This marks a substantial decline in female circumcision in recent years. Female circumcision is least common among those with secondary or higher education; only 87% of women with secondary or higher education are circumcised compared to 98% of women with no education.

Women’s support of female circumcision is also decreasing. The 2008 EDHS reports that only 63% of ever-married women believe that female circumcision should continue, compared to 82% in 1995. In 2008, more than one-third of women and one-quarter of men believed that female circumcision should be stopped.

The 2008 Egypt Demographic and Health Survey also highlights other improvements in maternal health. Three-quarters of pregnant women are receiving antenatal care compared to only 39% in 1995. Almost 80% of births are now assisted by trained medical personnel, compared to only 46% in 1995.

The 2008 EDHS also included testing for Hepatitis C. Ten percent of women and men tested through the 2008 EDHS were found to have an active infection; 15% had antibodies to the Hepatitis C virus in their blood, indicating that they had been exposed to the virus at some point. Poor infection control practices during the mass campaigns to treat schistosomiasis in Egypt from the 1950s through the early 1980s has been linked to hepatitis C. The EDHS found infection rates among adults who had ever received an injection to treat schistosomiasis were around twice those among adults who had not been given an injection.

Nutrition indicators are also troubling. Forty percent of women age 15-59 are obese, and another 28% are overweight. Men are also struggling with overnutrition, as 18% are obese and 34% are overweight.

About the survey: The 2008 Egypt Demographic and Health Survey is the ninth Demographic and Health Survey undertaken in the country. It surveyed over 6,500 women age 15-49 and over 5,400 men age 15-59.

The 2008 EDHS was conducted on behalf of the Ministry of Health (MOH) by El-Zanaty and Associates. Technical support was provided by ICF Macro as part of the worldwide MEASURE DHS Project. Funding for the survey was provided by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and UNICEF.

Additional information about the 2008 EDHS may be obtained from Ministry of Health, 3 Magles El Shaab Street,Cairo, Egypt; Telephone: 20-2-27948555 and Fax: 20-2-27924156.