Addressing menstrual health challenges among teenagers in Kwara state

Menstrual hygiene particularly among teenage girls is an issue which experts have  continued to emphasis considering its implications on the life of women. UMAR BAYO ABDULWAHAB reports how an organisation is handling the issue amongst teenage girls in Kwara state and Nigeria.    

Experts in reproductive health are pushing for the inclusion of menstrual health education as part of public health issue in Nigeria.

This, according to them, would in no small measure avert some  of the issues surrounding reproductive life of women in the country. They also believe that treating menstrual education as a  public health concerns is critical to realisation of SDGs3.

They believe when a girl’s menstrual health is affected, the reproductive health would be affected which inturn affects the marital life of such a person.

The above assertions were parts of the submissions of stakeholders and volunteers at an outreach programme on menstrual health education for people of Moro communities in Kwara state recently.

The programme was organised in commemoration of this year’s World Health Day usually celebrated every April 7.

Over 100 secondary schools students and women in Abati Tepatan community, Oyun, Jokolu in Moro local government area of Kwara state participated in the sensitisation programme which featured female reproductive health education, menstrual health education, confidence building in teenage girls and sensitisation on the use and maintenance of reusable sanitary pads, free distribution of reusable sanitary pads, among others. 

The community outreach tagged: Menstrual Health Education for All (MHEFA Outreach Project) was jointly organised by ‘Pad A Queen Initiative’ (PAQi) in partnership with The Future Hope Child Aid Foundation (TFHCAF).

Speaking at the event, the deputy programme director for PAQi, Olateju Ridwan said the organisation was established in the year 2021 with the aim of creating awareness on menstrual hygiene and ensure that period or menstrual poverty becomes a thing of the past.

“Part of what we do is to distribute reusable sanitary pads. Our mission is to increase awareness on menstrual period and educate people on menstrual hygiene and their influence on general health.

“We go to school to educate students on reproductive health, menstrual hygiene and their influence of their general health. We emphasised much on reusable sanitary pads to ensure sustainability,” he said.

He noted that the organisation was working seriously towards the realisation of SDG3 which includes education, health and sustainability.

“Through education and health, we educate people on menstrual health and menstrual hygiene to ensure that students while in school and in their period use reusable sanitary pads because of its sustainability.”

He explained that PAQi which had its first medical outreach in Ilorin on not too long ago in commemoration of this year’s World Health Day, had distributed over 5,000 reusable pads since its establishment in various communities in Oyo state, saying the feedbacks have been very encouraging while assuring that the organisation would continue to do its best in educating girls and women on menstrual health and hygiene.

He also promised to make reusable sanitary pads available to households as a way of eradicating period poverty.

“With the reusable sanitary pads, parents need to not to worry about buying pads every months; their children can still go to school while on their period and a lot of problem would be solved.

He stressed the need for inclusion of menstrual health education as part of public health because menstrual health is a very critical part of menstrual health. When the menstrual health is affected, the reproductive health would be affected and a lot of things would be affected in marital life.”

In her remark, the vice principal of Abati Tepatan Senior Secondary School, Hajia Salahudeen Olayinka Habibat commended PAQi for what she described as laudable service to humanity.

She urged the participants to make good use of knowledge gained at the programme by ensuring that they take the issue of personal hygiene very serious.

A volunteer, Hawa Laare, who spoke on ‘Menstrual health education for all’, advised participants to always change their sanitary pads every 4-6 hours, wash their undergarments properly and keep themselves clean especially when on menstrual period.

The programme director THFCAF, Maryam Adeleye among other volunteers who spoke at the event, said PAQi has over the years reached out to different communities and schools in Oyo state with the sensitisation on menstruation, hygiene and the female reproductive system, donation of free reusable menstrual pads and washing soap to each person and enlightenment on importance of their health through menstrual hygiene.

The theme for 2024 World Health Day is ‘My Health, My Right’, as they called on the participants to take care of their health always especially when menstrual period.