global Menstrual Hygiene
global Menstrual Hygiene

The Touching Lives of Girls (TLG) Foundation has called for national action to protect menstruating school girls from stigma as Ghana celebrates global Menstrual Hygiene (MH) Day on Monday with the rest of the world.

Ghana would join her global counterparts on 28th May to commemorate the annual event to highlight the importance of good menstrual hygiene management (MHM) among the female populace.

The MH Day, particularly targets adolescent girls who usually abandon school during their menstruating days mostly due to social stigma, lack of sanitary pads and other relevant facilities.

Explaining importance of the Day in an interview with Ghana News Agency ahead of the Day, Nana Ama Adutwumwah, the Chief Executive of TLG Foundation, said menstruation was unique to females as the onset of natural blood flow marked the most important changes in girls during their adolescent lives.

She said young girls during menstruation required regular maintenance of their health, wellbeing, mobility and dignity, which necessitated they had access to timely information, supplies and facilities to manage the situation, hence the need for state actors to take action to protect the Ghanaian girl child.

The first menstruation (menarche) occurs between 11 and 15 years and Hygiene-related practices of women during menstruation are of considerable importance since it had health impact of increased vulnerability to Reproductive Tract Infections (RTI).

The interplay of socio-economic status, menstrual hygiene practices and RTI are noticeable with Millions of women globally suffering RTI and its complications, and often the infection transmitted to the offspring of pregnant mothers, according to menstrual hygiene crusaders.

Women with better knowledge of menstrual hygiene and safe practices are less vulnerable to RTI and its consequences, they added.

“Therefore, increased knowledge about menstruation right from childhood help in safe practices and mitigating the suffering of millions of women,” Nana Adutwumwah said.

In Ghana about 52 per cent of the female population fall within the reproductive age with most of them menstruating every month.

But, the CEO expressed sadness that majority of Ghanaian females had no access to clean and safe sanitary products and private space to change their menstrual cloths or pads while water needed to wash their hands was hardly available in public washrooms.

Study by TLG Foundation in Ghana shows 68 per cent of adolescent girls in rural Ghana do not know their period of menstruation while 48 per cent are ignorant that discharge of blood from their womb is part of growth stage in life.

According to the study, 23 per cent are also ignorant about the use of sanitary pads during menstruation with many more girls using old cloth for their monthly blood flow.

About 28 per cent of young adolescents have reliable source of information about health practice and disposal of sanitary pads are through mass media, mothers and sisters.

Around 70 per cent of menstruating girls do not practise hand washing with soap during their periods.

The study further reveals 50 per cent of Ghanaian girls are ignorant about the use of sanitary pads with the rest using old cloths as pads for protection of their monthly flow, largely due to tradition and culture.

“This is a clear evidence to show that ignoring good menstruation is damaging not just women and girls directly but also for schools, business and economy,” Nana Adutwumwah noted.

“We humbly appeal to mainstream media to help create awareness and impact knowledge into these girls in order to prevent school absenteeism, inattentiveness in class, fear of soiling themselves and in worse cases dropping out of school,” she added.

The MH Day celebrated on 28th May every year was initiated by German-based NGO, WASH United, in 2014 to highlight the importance of menstrual hygiene every year.

May 28th has symbolic meaning, according to menstrual hygiene campaigners, since the Month is the 5th month of the year and women also menstruate an average of five (5) days each month while menstrual cycle averages 28 days.

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