The Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources, in collaboration with the World Bank, have donated sanitary items to the Tetteh Ocloo State School for the Deaf to commemorate this year’s Menstrual Hygiene Day.
The theme for the Day is “More Action and Investment in Menstrual Hygiene Now.”
The World has set aside every 28th May in every year to celebrate the Day to create awareness of the importance of menstrual hygiene among women and girls to prevent infections.
Mr Harold Esseku, the World Bank WASH Specialist, in an address, said menstrual hygiene management was a multi-sectoral issue, which could be effectively addressed through collaboration among officials and practitioners in water supply, sanitation, hygiene, education, and solid waste management.
He said according to a World Bank study, if menstrual health and hygiene were well managed from the start, it would contribute to the increasing of female empowerment at the critical stage of a girl’s life.
Mr Esseku said the study identified some challenges in menstrual hygiene management, including lack of inadequate infrastructure facilities in schools, social norms and stigma, gaps in menstrual product supply and affordability.
He said at least 367 million children had no sanitation services in their schools and women and girls globally lacked adequate facilities to manage their menstruation while stigma contributed to absenteeism.
“In one study, 95 per cent of menstruating girls miss one to three school days every month. 70 per cent of them reported negative impact on their grades and over 50 per cent stayed behind school due to menstruation and something ought to be done to stop this,” he said.
Mr Esseku said it was now time for action and that under the Sustainable Rural Water Supply and Sanitation and the GAMA Sanitation and Water Project sponsored by the World Bank in the last two years constructed 1,500 School WASH facilities for menstrual hygiene management.
He said this was done in accordance with the National Standard and urged all who were into the construction of school facilities to do same by providing toilet and menstrual hygiene cubicles.
Mr Esseku called on the government to remove taxes on all sanitary products as promised to enable women and girls get sanitary pads and other hygiene materials at the lowest cost possible.
Dr Josephine Kyei, a Lecturer at the University of Ghana, urged men to support women and girls during their menstruation because during such period they go through different cycles, which were pushed by hormones.
“Some people would feel sick throughout the cycle, would become muddy, complain and when it happens support us. It is not intentional; it is some physiological changes that are going on in our body,” she said.
Dr Kyei said when such changes were occurring the girls should remember that they were natural and so it was not an opportunity for them to stay out of school or stay from doing their work and other activities at home, adding that; “Tell your mind that it is natural and so I must be active in whatever I am doing.
“I Am saying all these to tell our boys, our men and even as girls and women that menstruation is natural we need to take it as such; we do not have to see it as a taboo; we do not have to see it as anything dirty; without a woman going through menstruation, ovulation pregnancy cannot occur and human beings would not be brought to this earth.
She encouraged the girls to use the right materials during their menstruation and that; “they should clean from the front to the back. If you clean from the back to the front you introduce the infection of faeces to the front that is the vagina and these would create a lot of problems of infection for you.”
Mr George Asiedu, GAMA Project Coordinator, said the theme for occasion, which laid emphasis on action and investment means that the men and the government must support women and the girl-child during their menstruation.
He said the GAMA had provided changing rooms for the girl-child in the schools and that the onus now was on the parents and the government to furnish the facilities with sanitary materials to make the children feel comfortable during their menstruation.
“We should be able to equip the changing rooms for the girls to have access to all that they need during their menstruation rather than letting them to carry their own items to the facility.” Mr Asiedu said.
Mr Isaac Arthur, the Head Teacher of the Tetteh Ocloo State School for the Deaf, who received the sanitary items, expressed gratitude to the donors and appealed to individuals, organizations and philanthropic organisations to support the school with streetlights, which is dear to the management of the facility.
He asked for the provision of teachers’ accommodation to enhance teaching and learning at the school.