Women seeking subsidized infant formula will be required to undergo breast examinations, as part of a series of new measures to control distribution of the increasingly scarce commodity, a spokesperson for Egypt’s Heath Ministry told Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Rai on Saturday.
Parents will also be required to carry a smart card, which will be issued by the Ministry following the submission of a child’s birth certificate.
Health Ministry spokesperson Khaled Megahed explained the new regulations are not meant as an insult to Egyptian women, and strongly denied what he called “disrespectful” assertions circulating on social media that claimed women would have to undergo public examinations. The exams will take place in private mobile health clinics, Megahed added.
The new regulations were introduced after recent protests over formula shortages and price hikes, which culminated in the military intervening and announcing they would import the formula, for which the first shipment is set to arrive on September 15. The military, in coordination with the Health Ministry, is set to sell the formula for LE30, a 50 percent markdown on the current market price.
The new regulations also come at time when multiple ministries have come under fire for their inability to control powerful commodity merchants and root out corruption, most notably in the case of the recent wheat scandal.
The spiraling cost of infant formula has been impacted by Egypt’s inflation rate, which is currently at its highest in over a decade, resulting in painful price hikes of a number of crucial goods.
The Pharmacists Syndicate criticized the Health Ministry’s new measures, calling for certificates to be issued to mothers instead, stating whether they are entitled to subsidized milk. Syndicate head Mohey Ebeid said, “The minister’s decision came out of the blue. It was made hastily, without being studied.”