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WaterAid to partner govt to develop menstrual hygiene, WASH policies

WaterAid Nigeria has concluded plans to collaborate with government ministries such as the Ministry of Women Affairs in the development of a National Menstrual Hygiene Policy (NMHP), and the Ministry of Water Resources and Sanitation alongside the Ministry of Environment in the development of a National WASH Policy that addresses Menstrual Hygiene Management in line with the Sanitation Policy Guideline (ASPG) in Africa.

WaterAid
Participants at the symposium in commemoration of 2024 Menstrual Hygiene Day in Lagos

Evelyn Mere, WaterAid Nigeria Country Director, made this known in her remarks at a One-Day Symposium in Commemoration of 2024 Menstrual Hygiene Day in Lagos.

Mere said: “These steps will ensure that menstrual health is included in policies, programmes and related budgets so people get the support they need. It is evident that promoting Menstrual Health and Hygiene Management (MHM) is not only a sanitation matter; it is also an important step towards safeguarding the dignity, health and overall life opportunities of women and girls. Hence, the need for all stakeholders to come together.

“According to the 2021 Water, Sanitation and Hygiene National Outcome Routine Mapping (WASHNORM) Survey, in Nigeria, 94% of healthcare facilities do not have access to basic water, sanitation and hygiene services. While 89% of schools and 96% of markets and motor parks do not have basic water supply, sanitation, and hygiene services.”

This year’s theme, “Together for a Period Friendly World”, is apt as it calls for a multisectoral approach in addressing the stigma and taboos surrounding menstruation and creating a world where everyone can access the products, period education and period-friendly infrastructure they need.

“WaterAid is committed to working in schools and communities in Nigeria to ensure people have practical information on menstrual health and hygiene as well as access to decent toilet facilities and safe, affordable products including guidance on how to make their own reusable materials and how to use menstrual materials safely,” the Country Director stated.

In his submission, M. A. Adegbite, Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources, Office of Drainage Services and Water Resources, opined that menstrual health is a fundamental aspect of human rights, dignity, and public health.

Represented by Adisa Yinusa, the Permanent Secretary who is of the opinion that poor menstrual hygiene can result in discrimination, marginalisation, and social stigma towards women and girls call on men in leadership positions to create inclusive workplaces by implementing supportive policies and providing necessary sanitary facilities.

He said: “The need to take urgent action in pointing out the importance of menstrual care, raising awareness and breaking the silence is very paramount.”

In his submission, Dr. Adebayo Alao, WaterAid Lagos Programme Lead, said: “The key highlight of the symposium is to advocate for continuous support for our females especially the young girls at puberty age. So, we need to educate them as well as the parents to see the importance of this to the health of their children.

“The girls should always compose themselves in a very healthy manner, they should know that getting to the stage of puberty is nothing to be afraid of, it is a natural thing that happens to every female gender, but they should be aware of how best to manage it so as not to endanger their health in the process.”

Highpoint of the event was a panel discussion on the theme of the day moderated by Mrs. Titilola Bright-Oridame, Project Coordinator, Lagos Water Corporation, and presentations by schools in attendance while Mrs. Funmilayo Jaji representing Mrs. Cecrlia Bolaji-Dada, Commissioner, Ministry of Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation (WAPA), handled the distribution of Hygiene Kits to more than 100 schoolgirls in attendance.

Dignitaries at the event include Dr. Patricia Nekpen, Founder, Society for Girls in Science and Engineering Foundation; Mr. Adenigba Henry Oluwarotimi, the Executive Director, Programmes, Humanity Family Foundation for Peace and Development (HUFFPED); representatives from Cummins, PepsiCo Foundation, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education, other MDAs and some selected schools around Lagos State.

By Ajibola Adedoye

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