Menstrual Hygiene Day: Lack of adequate toilets still a challenge in Nigeria — Group

From L - R The Head, Health Promotion Division, National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Chris Elemuwa, Country Director WaterAid, ChiChi Okoye and the deputy head of WASH department, Action Against Hunger, Patricia Obroh during a Media chat to mark the 2018 Menstrual Hygiene Day
From L - R The Head, Health Promotion Division, National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Chris Elemuwa, Country Director WaterAid, ChiChi Okoye and the deputy head of WASH department, Action Against Hunger, Patricia Obroh during a Media chat to mark the 2018 Menstrual Hygiene Day

As Nigeria joins the rest of the World to commemorate the 2018 Menstrual Hygiene Day, a group, WaterAid, has said nearly half of the schools in Nigeria do not have basic toilets.

These toilets, it added are meant to enable adolescent girls manage their menstrual hygiene properly.

The Country Director, of WaterAid Nigeria, ChiChi Okoye, made this known on Monday in Abuja, at an event to mark the day.

Menstrual Hygiene Day was started by WASH United in 2014 to build awareness of the fundamental role that good menstrual hygiene management plays in helping women and girls reach their full potentials.

The theme of this year’s Menstrual Hygiene Day is: NoMoreLimits.

Mrs Okoye said a recent survey revealed that lack of proper menstrual hygiene management as a result of inadequate Water and Sanitation facilities, has an adverse effect on the health and education of adolescent girls.

She maintained that there is need for governments around the world to prioritise the provision of washing facilities and sanitation especially better toilets facility in schools, in order to ensure girls’ right to education and equality.

“Nearly half of schools in low- and -middle income countries like Nigeria, do not have basic toilets meaning; girls who are menstruating risk embarrassment and shame during this time, and may decide not to attend school. UNESCO estimates that 1 in 10 adolescent girls in Africa miss school during their menstruation and eventually drop out,” she said.

She said menstrual hygiene management is not just about providing sanitary pads but ”about helping young girls and the people around them, including the men in their lives, to have the information awareness and the knowledge around this issue”.

Mrs Okoye, who expressed her frustrations over silence surrounding the deeply rooted taboos and negative social norms, cultural beliefs and myths perpetuated by society, said these were the factors responsible for fueling gender inequality where women and girls were often portrayed as being inferior to men and boys.

The deputy head of the WASH department of Action Against Hunger, Patricia Obroh noted the issues confronting women and girls in effective menstrual hygiene management to include: low availability of hygienic sanitary towels, high cost of disposal pads, poor knowledge of menstrual hygiene management and insufficient access to safe and private sanitation services.

She urged the Federal Government to “increase the availability and accessibility of safe water supply and sanitation services for all citizens, provision of adequate sanitary services for women and girls in IDP camps and schools”.

The Head, Health Promotion Division, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Chris Elemuwa said the agency is working hard to ensure the provision of toilets to all Primary Health Centers across the country.

”We are supporting the menstrual cycle of women by providing toilets for all PHCs across the country. This will make it convenient for women who visit the health clinic while on their menstrual period. Once there is a neat toilet and water, there will be no reason for them not to clean up well.”

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The representative of Plan International,Tunde Aremu said the menstrual cycle should be considered a health right issue rather than perceived as a taboo, especially by most people in rural communities.

Mr Aremu said the issue of menstrual cycle hygiene is associated with the ability of the young girls to live their dreams.

He said, most of them still miss classes because of their menstrual period pains and also due to lack of toilet facilities in some schools.

He urge schools owners to ”ensure the provision of neat toilet facilities, that will make the menstrual period a bit relieving to the girls”.

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