To commemorate this year’s International Menstrual Hygiene Day, the Centre for Children’s Health Education, Orientation and Protection (CEE-HOPE), in collaboration with Girls On A Mission (GOAM), Australia, on Tuesday organised a sensitisation programme for school girls in Lagos.
The programme, which was held in Ifako on Tuesday and had over 200 female teenagers in attendance, focused on poor menstrual hygiene and the dangers associated with it.
The International Menstrual Hygiene Day, first celebrated on May 28, 2014, is a day set aside to create awareness on menstrual hygiene and also break taboos surrounding menstruation.
Betty Abah, the executive director of CEE-HOPE foundation, said although women have a natural instinct to take care of themselves during menstruation, the access to sanitary products remains a problem, especially for girls and women in low-income countries such as Nigeria.
“How are women able to access sanitary products, especially women in difficult situations, women in IDP camps, women with mental health issues, women running from communal attacks and on the mountains for days, how do they access sanitary products?” Mrs Abah asked.
She said her organisation hopes to bring such issues to the front burner, noting that sanitary poverty can be alleviated when sanitary products are affordable or free for women and girls.
A keynote speaker at the event, Adeolu Olusogo, lectured the adolescent girls in attendance on menstrual hygiene and the importance of knowing what a menstrual cycle entails.
“Once a woman knows she is menstruating and she cannot hold it together, it results in low self-esteem and cuts the person off from a lot of things, such as going out,” said Mr Olusogo, a medical doctor.
“Also, because it is blood, blood is a good substrate for germs to grow, so if a woman has no way of curtailing the spread, or flow, it can lead to spread of infection.
He said the infection could spread to the woman’s reproductive parts and result in infertility.
“It is a process, if the blood is not well curtailed, germs can grow which will lead to infection. infection that is not quickly treated can that damage the reproductive organ.”
Mrs Abah said many girls go through contractual sex so that they could afford sanitary products.
“In that situation, they are vulnerable and even get infected,” she said.
“If they can provide free condoms, why not sanitary products? Sex is a choice, but menstrual period is not.”
She advocated for the removal of taxes on sanitary products and also make the products free or affordable for all women and adolescent girls.
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