By Felicia Imohimi
Heal For Africa Initiative, an NGO, has called on the Federal and State Governments to include menstrual hygiene education in school curriculum to enable girls to adequately concentrate on their academics during their menstrual period.
Mr Kingsley Ohaneme, the Project Manager of the organisation, made the appeal on Thursday in Abuja at a seminar organised for Government Secondary School, Zuba, FCT, to commemorate the World Menstrual Hygiene Day, marked on May 28 annually.
The programme was organised by the initiative in collaboration with One Aim Care Services, True Foundation, Miss Globe 2018 and GAMAAC.
Ohaneme said that menstrual hygiene inclusion in school curriculum should encapsulate provision of sanitation facilities where these girls could properly dispose their menstrual pad and water facilities to clean or wash themselves properly.
He further harped on provision of private toilets or places where these girls could comfortably go to and change their pad rather than going back home which could obstruct their academics.
The project manager, who cited a scenario where girls would have to go back home to change pad, dispose or clean up in the event of stain due to lack of sanitation facilities within school premises, however described this as unhealthy and limitation to quality education of the female folks.
“We need sanitation facilities and we need private toilet or places where these girls can comfortably go to change their pad and go back to class.
“If there is no place for them to privately change their pad, no water to wash clean up they will have to go home.
“So, to address the idea of missing school by girls during their menstrual period government should prioritise provision of sanitation facilities like water, soap, separate toilets for girls and possibly provision of sanitary pad for those that do not have.
“As long as there is a girl that menstruates in the school the student deserves to have some form of menstrual hygiene education. So we advocate that menstrual hygiene and menstrual management should be included in school curricular across board schools,” Ohaneme said.
The project manager further noted that based on the curriculum girls should be properly educated on how they could take care of their body during their menstrual cycles, how to use the pad, where and when to change, among others.
He specifically noted that many girls are ignorant that their pad should not be on them for four to six hours.
Ohaneme however emphasised that failure to educate them on these issues by their teachers and parents, among others, could expose them to illnesses like urinary track and reproductive track infections, rashes and bacteria which could lead to other illnesses.
According to him, children specifically girls need to know how to properly manage themselves and their period and this can only be achieved if menstrual hygiene education and management is incorporated in school curriculum.
Speaking on “Menstrual hygiene management”, Dr Fatima Odusote, Founder, One Aim Care Services an NGO, defined menstruation as bleeding through the vagina which occurred three to seven days in a month, adding that it can result to abdominal pains, tiredness and breast tenderness.
Odusote, who noted that the entire cycle typically ranges between 21 to 35 days, however said it could be up to 45 in adolescents.
She identified four steps toward menstrual hygiene as safe collection or absorption of menstrual blood, prompt changing of collection or absorption materials, bodily or environmental cleanliness and prompt and safe disposal of menstrual blood and materials.
She however advised girls, ladies or women to change their pad or whatever they used in absorbing their menstrual flow frequently between four to six hours to avoid stains, odour and infection.
Odusote condemned unhygienic practices during menstruation like lack of hand washing after changing sanitary towel, insertion of unhygienic material into the vagina and use of unclean sanitary pad, among others.
According to her, such practices can give easier access of bacteria to the cervix, the uterine cavity and facilitate the spread of infections.
Similarly, Ms Patricia Ahmed, Volunteer with Heal for Africa Initiative, who spoke on “Pain management during menstruation”, advised on the consumption of chicken, red meat and food rich in fibre as well as vegetables.
Ahmed further advised those on their menstrual period to ensure regular exercise to ease of associated pains, adding that staying idle during this period will further worsen your condition.
“During your menstrual period avoid intake or bathing with cold water, drink and bath with water and as well eat right,” Ahmed said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that highpoint of the event was the presentation of sanitary pad to the students.