Mrs Peace Emmanuel, a public health expert, has called on government health authorities and philanthropic Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to subsidise sanitary pads to promote good menstrual hygiene in the country.
She made the call on Tuesday during an interview as the country joined other nations to celebrate the 2018 Global Menstrual Hygiene Day.
Emmanuel specifically wants governments and CSOs to boost the management of healthy menstrual life, especially among less privileged Nigerians.
“It is pathetic to know that many of the internally displace persons, for lack of money, opt for rags, and because of cultural factors, they wash and dry them in the house without sunlight, which poses grievous health challenges.
“If a woman got infection through improper menstrual health management, she may transmit it to her man, so everybody is affected by this problem after all.
“A good sanitary pad is not less than N300 in the market, which a woman who can hardly feed will afford compulsorily,’’ she said.
The Menstrual Hygiene Day (MHD), also known as Menstrual Health Day, marked annually on May 28, is to create awareness and highlight the importance of good menstrual hygiene management.
It was initiated by the German-based NGO, Wash United, in 2014, and aims to benefit women and girls worldwide.
The ’28th’ was selected to acknowledge that 28 days is the average length of the menstrual cycle, as the day advocates adequate sanitation facilities and access to menstrual hygiene products as parts of the solution.
“Affordability, especially by young female students and indigent Nigerians has always being a problem, with many resorting to use of piece of clothes and other unhealthy items,’’ Emmanuel said.
“Government and donor organisations have over the years subsidised, and in most cases distributed condoms free to people, without considering same for female sanitary pads.
“Sexual intercourse is a voluntary act, and menstruation is compulsory to every female adult, whether rich or poor.
“They have always said that condom prevents sexually transmitted infections, however, improper menstrual health management exposes women to bacterial infections as well,” she said.
According to Emmanuel, subsidising sanitary pads will be a great respite to less-privileged and vulnerable women, as choices of menstrual hygiene materials are often limited by cost and availability.
She noted that there was lack of adequate sanitation facilities and access to menstrual hygiene products by many female Nigerians, especially in the rural areas and internally displaced persons camps.
“Many stakeholders distribute condoms to IDPs, yet many do not consider sanitary pads which a mother and her grown female children need every month for a healthy living,’’ said the expert.
Emmanuel noted that many adolescents in boarding schools were having serious challenges on managing their menstrual hygiene, and therefore called on health authorities to pay special attention to them.
“Research has shown that not having access to menstrual hygiene management products can keep girls at home from school during their period each month.
“Depending on the flow, the pad ought to be changed six-hourly, and this requires a lot of money for a young dependent child to handle,’’ she said.