Over 300 girls from poor families in Kilifi North Sub-county in Kilifi have received sanitary pads from Mephi Hospital health initiative to help them maintain menstrual hygiene.
The one-year menstrual health initiative undertaken by the level four hospital at Kilifi town is targeting to distribute pads to over 1,000 girls in different schools across the County by December 2023.
During a charity walk to promote menstrual health in Kilifi town, Mephi Hospital director Mercy Piri said the first phase targets 10 primary and secondary schools but they expect to reach more during the second and third phases in June and September this year respectively.
Miss Piri disclosed that the management has been carrying out menstrual health education for girls in primary schools.
“Many of them miss classes because of lack of pads, many of their parents cannot provide, and some are orphans, so we want such girls to have the freedom to study like the others,” she said
Apart from missing classes, Miss Piri added that the lack of sanitary pads among school girls has affected their learning through low self-esteem and lack of concentration, which leads to poor performance.
She maintained that they will continue with their initial health education programme while giving out sanitary pads at the sometime.
“We aim to give them training and support them with pads so that we end absenteeism. When a girl is on her period and is well prepared, her self-esteem is good. She can interact well with her colleagues in class, she will be attentive and perform well in her studies,” she added.
The hospital is also engaging partners such as the county government, Imarika Sacco, and others to join hands and donate many sanitary pads that can be enough to end the devastating effects of missing the items among teenagers.
Lack of sanitary pads has also been linked to early pregnancies among the girls in Kilifi County.
Kilifi County Executive Committee member for Gender Dr. Ruth Masha pleaded for more stakeholders to come out and donate sanitary towels to meet the high demand for the items in the region.
She also recommended the establishment of sanitary pad collection centers in every area, where identified girls in need would easily visit and collect the items for use.
“It would be good if this exercise had sustainability. It should not be done in January alone. It should be something going on from time to time,” she added.
Imarika Sacco Chief Executive officer George Ngala said the Sacco foundation is also considering starting a separate project to donate pads directly to schools just the way they sponsor students in secondary schools.
“We have already started to collaborate with other stakeholders to provide pads because lack of pads is something that is extreme in our areas,” he said during his address to the media.
By Jackson Msanzu