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Wednesday, 19 April, 2000, 20:07 GMT 21:07 UK
Nefertiti breaks new ground in TV
contraceptives
Good example? The channel's namesake bore many children
By Caroline Hawley in Cairo

Nefertiti, the ancient Queen of Egypt, is helping modern Egypt break new broadcasting ground.

For four hours each day, a special satellite television channel named after the famed beauty will beam out programmes on everything from healthy eating to exercise, contraception, new medical advances and how to look after a new-born baby.


Nefertiti
Nefertiti: An ancient queen famed for her beauty
The Egyptian Health Ministry, which is responsible for the new channel, says it is the first of its kind in the region.

The channel will also provide a forum for discussion on issues usually kept in the closet in this religiously conservative country.

Sex, for example - women and girls will be able to call in with their questions.

So will men, in a separate slot called For Men Only.

In a test broadcast, Nefertiti's numbers were given out and a doctor was asked about infertility.

Too many babies

But the new channel's director, Fatma Fuwad, says the principle aim is to address fertility.

She says Egypt's relentlessly-growing population is the biggest problem holding back the country's development.

Although the average family size is now dropping, officials say one million new babies are being born each year, badly straining Egypt's already over-stretched schools and medical facilities.

But one critic has already queried the choice of Nefertiti as a role model.

She is said to have had six or seven children - way overstepping current recommendations.

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29 Dec 99 | Middle East
Egypt legalises Viagra
17 Jan 00 | Middle East
Egypt backs rights for women
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