Narok County Public Health Officer, Mr Edward Tankoi, has called for involvement of both men and boys on menstrual hygiene issues.
Tankoi said all males should support women and girls during their monthly menses adding, “Many girls choose to stay at home during their menstrual period due to stigma, fear and lack of sanitary towels and end up missing school every month and this affects their academic performance hence their future.”
Mr Tankoi said every month, women and girls experience a menstrual circle which was normal and thus they should not feel ashamed or stigmatized but should instead seek help in case they need it.
He was speaking to KNA on the sidelines of a County Health Stakeholders meeting held at a Narok Hotel. The meeting was a precursor to the World Menstrual Hygiene Day which is celebrated on May 28 every year.
The County celebration will be held at Elang’ata Enterit in Narosoora area in Narok South Sub- County. This year`s theme is; Step Up Action and Investment in Menstrual Hygiene.
“Men should know their wife’s or daughter’s menstrual cycle and give moral support where possible and help provide the much needed sanitary towels and any other material help required,” he appealed.
Tankoi said last year when schools closed to avert the spread of coronavirus pandemic, many girls fell prey to men who took advantage of them promising to provide this important sanitation tool.
A senior education official who is also menstrual hygiene champion in the County, Mr Anthony Makori, said some of the sanitary towels the government provided to schools have been lying in the stores because male teachers deem supplying them to girls was female teacher’s responsibility while many girls on the other hand continue to suffer.
Makori also said proper disposal of the pads was important in maintaining good hygiene. “The pads should not be thrown away in bushes but should be buried in the ground if there is no incinerator around,” he stressed.
Another County menstrual hygiene crusader, Mr Daniel Sironka, who is also the Narok East Sub- County Public Health Officer, said that the County Menstrual Hygiene Mentorship (MHM) programme was launched in 2017 with the theme, “Break the silence on menstrual hygiene,” The programme is aimed at creating awareness on this health issue.
He said in many African communities, menstrual hygiene is talked about in low tones as it is considered a taboo. “But if this silence is broken with the involvement of the male folk, the girl child will be empowered to achieve her potential and school absenteeism reduced,” Sironka added.
Sironka called upon women and girls to embrace proper hygiene during their menstrual period in order to avoid contracting diseases.
He said outdated cultural practices and lack of sanitary pads had led thousands of girls in the County and around the Country to use unorthodox means such as leaves, dirty clothes and mattresses and end up with infections. “Others sit on the soil in the ground so that it can absorb the flow!” Sironka lamented.
President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2017 signed into law the Basic Education Amendment Act that states that the government will provide free, sufficient and quality sanitary towels to every girl child registered and enrolled in public basic education institution who has reached puberty and provide an environmentally sound mechanism for disposal of the same.
In January this year, Education Cabinet Secretary Prof. George Magoha launched the distribution of sanitary towels to girls in primary schools. This programme targets girls in Class 6, 7 and 8 who are expected to have started experiencing their menstruation.
By Mabel Keya-Shikuku