Menstrual hygiene is an essential service during COVID-19

Menstrual hygiene is an essential service during COVID-19

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BY PURITY NTHIANA

The ability of women and girls to access and manage their menstrual hygiene is already being hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many women and girls in rural and low-income communities already find it hard to access commodities such as menstrual hygiene products. However, this has now been compounded by loss of jobs and the fact that many girls used to get their menstrual hygiene products from their schools, which are now closed.

Information on menstrual hygiene management is also essential during this pandemic.

Disruption of water supply in parts of Kenya has also led to gaps in provision of water and sanitation. Despite the fact that we should sanitize our hands, many girls find themselves without enough water for menstrual hygiene.

Some of the most affected are the vulnerable members of society, such as the marginalized and people living with disabilities. In the same way that the pandemic is affecting us all, menstruation is the part of reality for all women and girls.

In settings where economic hardships have led to financial stress, we are seeing many families prioritizing other needs such as food, and commodities other than sanitary towels.

The government should provide enough water and menstrual materials to girls and women in home as a way of making the containment and curfews manageable. Ensure that pads are deemed essential commodities, removing barriers to manufacturing and supply.

The WASH communities of practice should tap into creating new solutions to ensure accessible and affordable menstrual products, appropriate water and sanitation facilities for girls and women and also comprehensive menstrual health education.

Menstrual health should be addressed by relevant sectors through appropriate policies. We should share awareness on menstruation, raising behavior change, service delivery, product distribution outreach and advocacy.

Nthiana is a Youth Advocate at the Network for Adolescent and Youth of Africa (NAYA)