A study on menstrual health hygiene among in-school deaf adolescents in Ghana has revealed a general lack and proper use of sanitary pads by the girls in the schools.
The study revealed also, that, pains associated with menstruation contributed to low academic performance.
Dr Emmanuel Sackey, the Programme Manager of the Centre for Employment of Persons with Disability, who announced the findings, identified poor concentration and absenteeism from class as other challenges of menstrual health among deaf adolescents in school.
The findings were from a year-long survey, covering June 2018 to May 2019 targeting students, housemothers, heads and teachers in schools for the deaf in seven regions of Ghana – Volta, Ashanti, Western, Central, Northern, Upper West, and Eastern.
At a forum in Accra to discuss the findings, Dr Sackey said the study was to generate new evidence and guide advocacy for improved menstrual health management (MHM) in adolescents in schools for the deaf.
It was also to examine the knowledge and practices of MHM among in-school adolescent deaf girls and assess the role of the schools in ensuring these practices were adhered to.
Using the survey, in-depth and sign language communication methods of data collection, the study identified menstrual hygiene as an important and sensitive subject.
According to the study, majority of adolescents had had adequate knowledge of MHM, but were scared of their first menstruation.
About 57 per cent had pre-menarche knowledge and housemothers were most accessible yet only 5.3 per cent of the pupils and students preferred to share information with them.
“They chose to relate to their mothers on that matter than school house mothers,” according to the findings.
One respondent was reported to have said: “Because of menstrual pains I do feel feverish and uncomfortable staying in class. This does not allow me to concentrate in class. It is very easier for me to manage menstrual pains at home because there is always a family member to assist in case of a serious complication.”
Another respondent said: “I felt so uncomfortable and a sudden mood change, so I felt ashamed and remained indoors for the rest of the day. I was then in school, so I informed my house mother who gave me directions on how to keep myself clean during menstruation.”
The girls complained of being teased by their male colleagues and also felt uncomfortable having their menses in school, especially when they were beside male students.
There were however divergent views on if “Menstruation is a female issue that males should not get involved” or if “It is a matter that everyone should know about.”
Support provided by the schools included In-School MHM Education Programme, WASH facilities, support by School Housemothers and First Aid.
The study recommended schools to encourage students to make use of housemothers, building of capacity of housemothers, and sustaining and improving in-school MHM Education.
It also called for the inclusion of male students and teachers in MHM programmes and to diversity source of information.
Madam Wilma Titus-Glover, Coordinator in Charge of Special Needs of the Ministry of Education, urged for issues surrounding the school housemother to be demystified.
She also called for knowledge of menstruation to be broadened in the school curricula.
Mr Matthew Kubachua, the National President of Ghana National Association of the Deaf, said the deaf must be included more in social intervention programmes in this challenging era of Covid-19