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Foundation partners FG, sensitises students

By Justina Auta

AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), an NGO, in partnership with the Federal Government, on Monday sensitised students with disability in the Federal Capital Territory on menstrual hygiene health and management.

The event, which was organised by the foundation, was commemorated in partnership with the Federal Ministries of Health, Education and Women Affairs, at the School of the Deaf, Kuje near Abuja.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Menstrual Hygiene Day (MH Day) is annually celebrated on May 28 in many countries around the globe.

Menstruation is the monthly shedding of the lining of a woman’s uterus, commonly known as the womb.

Menstruation also known as menses, is partly blood and partly tissue from the inside of the uterus, flows from the uterus through the cervix and goes out of the body through the vagina.

The annual MHD is to highlight the importance of menstrual care, and raise awareness about issues faced by women and girls who don’t have access to clean water and sanitary products.

The global theme of the 2022 celebration is: “Making Menstruation a Normal Fact of Life by 2030”, an effort to build a world where no woman and girl is held back because she menstruates.

However, the AHF 2022 Menstrual Hygiene Day has “End The Stigma on Periods!” as its theme.

Dr Echey Ijezie, AHF Nigeria Country Programme Director, said the foundation was creating awareness on the need to end stigma around menstruation, while ensuring young women and girls have access to menstrual pads.

According to him, menstruation is a normal physiological process that occurs in adolescent girls and young women.

However, he noted that there was a lot of stigma around it.

“AHF is commemorating the 2022 menstrual hygiene day and this year we are speaking about ending stigma.

“There is the issue of access to menstrual pads, so we are trying to raise awareness about free access, menstrual hygiene while telling everyone that it is a normal process.

“A process that needs to be supported, a process that needs to ensure girls have access to menstrual hygiene education and free pads,’’ he said.

Ijezie added that the process of menstruation had caused many girls to stay out of school due to financial inability to purchase pads, misconception and myths around menstruation, hence the need to create awareness.

He said that similar activities were taking place across other states where AHF operates, with activities such as radio jingles in ensuring the message gets to the grassroot.

Mrs Gloria Ekanem, Member Technical Working Group on menstrual health and hygiene management, Federal Ministry of Women Affairs, said the commemoration was aimed at breaking the silence on menstruation.

Ekanem said the ministry was partnering with the foundation to create awareness on menstruation among young girls with disability that are of reproductive age.

“Menstruation is a thing to be proud of, the message is for us to break the silence, end the stigma and all the myths people have about menstruation.

“Some people cannot go out when they are menstruating, they cannot buy sanitary pads and are not accessible to menstrual hygiene, and this situation is worrisome.

“That is why the ministry goes about sensitising the general public in schools, ministries, collaborating with various organisations to provide pad banks in public spaces during periods of emergencies.”

Mrs Akinba Aduke, Assistant Director, Federal Ministry of Education, commended the effort of the organisation, saying the ministry was saddled with the responsibility of educating young women and girls on menstrual health and management.

Aduke added that the ministry was working to ensure transfer of knowledge which would enable students produce reusable pads on their own at a minimal cost.

Mr Rabiu Oluwakemi, a staff of School of the Deaf, Kuje, appreciated the organisation and its partners for bringing such programme to the school.

“Bringing this programme to our door step is a well thought out idea, considering the nature of our children, we care for children with speech disorder, and those who cannot communicate.

“We are really happy because in the past, we only see such programmes on television and we hear it on radio, but the organiser’s realised inclusion of these children was very important,’’ Oluwakemi stated.

Ms Joyce Abi, a participant and student of the school, in sign language, expressed appreciation to the organisers for the enlightenment programme.

“I feel excited to hear so much on the message on menstrual hygiene. I learnt how to take care of myself during menstruation and the right way to use my pad,’’ Abi said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that highlight of the event, included distribution of gift packs, free menstrual pads and reusable pads to the students. (NAN) (www.nannews.ng)

Edited by Muhammad Suleiman Tola