Regional News Fri, 2 Jul 2021

Coniwas calls on Government to prioritise Menstrual Health Management

Mr Attah Arhin, President of the Coalition of NGO's in the Water and Sanitation Sector(CONIWAS) has called on Government to prioritise Menstrual Health Management(MHM) to ensure good menstrual health.

He said it would also serve as a commitment to women and girls' right to reproductive health, education and dignity.

Mr Arhin while speaking at a policy dialogue on Menstrual Health Management, organised by CONIWAS with funding from Plan International Ghana on Wednesday in Accra, said the MHM must be prioritised because it affected a vulnerable group, and if not handled properly could make them more vulnerable.

He appealed to the Government in prioritising MHM, to eliminate the 20 per cent import duties on sanitary materials and fulfil the social contract with the citizenry.

The necessary steps must be taken to standardise all relevant menstrual hygiene materials, especially the locally produced ones, to ensure health safety and affordability, he said.

Ms Sandra Boakye, Country Director, Days for Girls Ghana, said Government’s prioritisation of MHM was linked to the achievement to at least 5 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) which dealt with, poverty, wellbeing, quality education, clean water and sanitation, and economic growth.

She called for the promotion of the use of reusable sanitary pads and its research to address the challenge that most girls could not afford to purchase of sanitary pads.

Ms Boakye explained that education and awareness creation on Menstrual Health and Hygiene Management and MHM culture, stigma, limitations, sustainable products and privacy could help reduce the challenges of MHM.

She appealed to Government to invest in the production of sanitary pads and exempt taxes on locally manufactured ones to enable them compete with imported ones.

Ms Lilian Bruce, Gender Influencing Specialist, Plan International Ghana said the organisation had observed that there had been significant challenges, exclusions and right violations of girls, across the country and the inequalities in all sectors had been associated to MHM.

Menstruation, she said, had taken some girls out of school due to the structures, culture, social norms, cultural taboos surrounding menstruation and lack of basic WASH facilities in schools, therefore under their IWASH project, 14,000 disposable sanitary pads were distributed to targeted communities in three regions.

She said they had trained 516 girls and boys as MHM ambassadors in schools as well as 15 local dress makers to make reusable pads for their targeted communities, and provided 46 water ponds in 3 regions to provide access to water in schools.

Mr Ephraim Kwablah Tetteh, Programmes Officer, Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MOGSCP), said the Ministry had written to the Ministry of Finance to waive the tax on imported sanitary pads and raw materials for local producers of sanitary pads to make them affordable for all.

He said the Ministry had organised advocacy and sensitisation programmes for students from the basic, Junior High and Senior High Schools on Reproductive Health.

Madam Charlotte Agyei Marfo, Programmes Manager, Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources, informed that the Ministry had identified some schools without toilet facilities and had built about 406 of the facilities for schools in Accra, doing same in Kumasi with funds from Government and donors.

She said they had advocated for the construction of toilets in households and was ready to support the Gender Ministry concerning the issues of tax waiver on sanitary pads.

Mr Bernard Selasi Dzomeku, Principal Programme Officer School Health, Ministry of Education, commended the Ghana Education Service (GES) and the UNICEF and other partners on the launch of the Menstrual Health Guidelines to educate pupils.

He said dissemination of the guidelines could be done effectively when the pupils were educated in schools since they could help spread the information to their fellows who were out of school.

Mr Dyomeku said they were developing the ‛Safe School Policy’ which included ensuring that all schools were built WASH facilities and changing rooms.

Paa Kwesi Woode, Programme Officer, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), speaking on behalf of Mr Ramesh Bhusal, Chief of WASH, said they were committed to continuing to support the cause of Menstrual Hygiene in the country especially by working with the technical working group led by the School Health Education Programme of GES.
Source: GNA