A group, Society for Water and Sanitation (NEWSAN), has called for the inclusion of sanitary pads and other menstrual hygiene materials in all COVID-19 relief packages in Nigeria.
The group’s National Coordinator, Mr Benson Attah, made the call at the Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) campaign and awareness outreach in Ruga Community on Friday in Abuja.
According to him, all relevant authorities ought to continue to give priority to menstrual hygiene management.
Attah said that the negative implication of poor menstrual hygiene on women and girls was better imagined than experienced.
“We particularly commend all those who have given genuine concern to the needs of menstrual hygiene, because it is part of our life.
“We implore you to continue to prioritise and support women and girls menstrual hygiene needs at home, schools and community at large.
“Menstrual hygiene is one human need that has suffered serious neglect over the years, and it’s now very necessary to correct this mistake to make up for previous neglect.
“For instance, how many people today will say they remembered to include menstrual hygiene items in the COVID-19 relief items, or include them among the relief packages provided, either at Refugee or IDP Camps?
“We should consider menstrual hygiene equally as important as food and other basic items,” he said.
While commending the COVID-19 interventions of the Federal Government, Attah expressed his concern that the composition of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) left out the issue of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) and its stakeholders.
The national coordinator, however, called on all agencies of government to implement the Presidential Directives by releasing the various palliatives, including cash locked up in various warehouses for the good of the citizens.
He stressed that philanthropic organisations and individuals should find more effective means of ensuring that their donations reached the final beneficiaries.
According to him, it is worrisome that some donations have not been getting to intended beneficiaries.
“You can emulate other donor partners who went directly to the vulnerable beneficiaries to ensure that their donations added value to the life and wellbeing of the citizens,” he said.
Attah added that it was important for state governments to make their Local Government Authorities WASH Sections or Departments functional, as the war against COVID-19 could not be won at the state capitals, but from local government levels.
Also, Dr Elizabeth Jeiyol, National Coordinator, Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC), while commending NEWSAN coordinators for the awareness campaign, said that deliberate policies must be given to promote MHM in the country.
According to her, a day is set aside by the United Nations (UN) to celebrate menstruation and to raise voices for safe hygiene practices, thus breaking the culture of silence and myths surrounding menstruation.
Jeiyol said menstruation was a process where women and girls shed the outer lining of the uterus between three and five days, saying it is high time misconceptions and silence around the process were addressed.
She said: “Now is the time to take actions toward promoting the dignity of women and girls, and it is important for men to support women and girls while menstruating.
“In some communities, women and girls are stigmatised when menstruating, with stories of isolating them in separate places. We have heard stories of harmful practices during these days.
“We are telling everyone today that menstruation is a beautiful thing; we should all be free to talk about it. Without menstruation, there will be no life.
“It is important for everyone to take actions to support women and girls while menstruating, so as to protect their dignity,” she said.
Commenting, Abdullahi Umar, Chairman, Ruga Community Farmers and Traders Association, appreciated NEWSAN for the awareness campaign and the distribution of hygiene kits to women and girls.
Umar noted that the knowledge gained would go a long way toward improving hygiene practices and reducing infections from poor practices.
“We are excited about the training we got today.
“We have been taught on how to wash our hands effectively and its importance; we are hopeful that this would help to promote our health status,” he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the highlights of the event include the presentation of handwashing stations, distribution of facemasks and hygiene kits to women and girls.
– May 29, 2020 @ 17:25 GMT /