Poor menstrual hygiene, challenge to adolescent girls

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Brencare Foundation, an NGO, says poor menstrual hygiene is one of the leading challenges of adolescent girls in Cross River.
The Executive Director of Brencare Foundation, Ms Brenda Effiom, said this at a round table discussion on addressing poor menstrual hygiene in Cross River on Wednesday in Calabar.
She said the group needed to partner with other organisations, especially the media in spreading the information of menstrual hygiene to the public.
“We carried out a survey and discovered that poor menstrual hygiene was one of the leading problems facing adolescent girls in Cross River.
“So, we are trying to educate the public, provide disposable pads for girls and train people on the production and use of reusable pads because of the economic realities of many of these girls,” Effiom said.
The executive director added that there was also the problem of lack of toilet facilities in schools where girls could change their pads during school hours.
“We visited a school in Biase Local Government Area that had no toilet because it was a taboo to build toilets in the area, so the girls went into the bushes to change whatever they used during menstruation and were sometimes molested in the bushes by Corp members serving in the school,” she said.
The state Commissioner for Health, Dr Inyang Asibong, said our girls should be educated about sex and menstrual hygiene at the primary school level to catch them young.
Asibong, who was represented by Dr Comfort Ekanem, said though sex education was actually in our school curriculum, we have not been emphasising on it enough.
She said menstrual hygiene may look like a minute aspect in reproductive health but it was very important for every child because the beginning of the reproductive health for girls is the menstrual circle.
“Due to the economic situation of many of these girls, many of them cannot afford disposable pads; it would be difficult to totally eradicate using other alternatives.
“I think what we should emphasise here is no matter what you use during menstruation, observe high level of hygiene but most preferably use pad if you can afford it,” she said.
In her contribution, a trustee of Voice of Children Foundation, Dr Oluranti Ekpo, noted that it was important to educate the young ones but it was also important to find out what information they have to give which would help us to help them.
She urged organisations involved in humanitarian services to know the myths and taboos of the communities they want to go into as these taboos vary from community to community, be it rural or urban.
Some of the participants who attended the forum noted that some girls stayed away from school during menstruation in Cross River due to ignorance, poor toilet facilities and low self esteem, among others.

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