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Health experts urge inclusive menstrual health support, education


Boluwatife Akinola

Recognizing the critical importance of menstrual health for students’ well-being and academic success, health stakeholders have advocated for the implementation of functional Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) facilities and well-equipped clinics in schools.

The experts also emphasized the need for boys to be a safe space for the girls and women in their lives, condemned period-shaming and highlighted the need to offer support for girls during their periods.

They gave the recommendations at an event organised in commemoration of International Menstrual Hygiene Day 2024 themed “Together for a #Period Friendly World”, by SMILE With Me Foundation, in conjunction with The Centre for Response and Prevention of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (CRPSGBV), LAM Health, Girls Aid “Blooming Flow”, and other partners at the Lagos State University, LASU.

The founder of the SMILE With Me Foundation, Dr Chioma Nwakanma-Akanno, called for the implementation of functional WASH facilities and well-equipped school clinics to provide safe, compassionate, and quality care for girls experiencing severe menstrual symptoms.

The public health specialist emphasized the importance of inclusive conversations about menstruation, highlighting that a period-friendly world can only be achieved when both boys and girls are involved in the dialogue.

Speaking on “Period Simplified and Myth Busting,” she said, “We cannot achieve a period-friendly world if we only have these conversations with the girls. That’s why we are happy to see the boys well represented here today.”

She underscored the necessity of proper menstrual health education and support systems within schools.

While demystifying common period myths, Nwakanma-Akanno educated the students on how to accurately calculate their menstrual cycle, advocate boldly for health, recognize common health issues that may cause a deviation from normal, and the need to report to their caregivers for early treatment if required.

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Also, Dr. Bola Owate, Programs Director at SMILE With Me Foundation, emphasized the need for boys to be a safe space for girls and women in their lives.

He condemned period shaming and highlighted common practices that contributed to shaming and sexual abuse, emphasizing the role of boys in supporting girls during periods.

The founder of LAM Health, Toya Adeniyi, educated the students on the available range of reusable and biodegradable menstrual hygiene care products.

She equally highlighted the role sustainability plays in reducing the cost of period care and ultimately preserving our climate.

The Director of the Centre for Response and Prevention of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (CRPSGBV), Dr. Igot Ofem, highlighted the links between period-shaming and silencing, and gender-based violence among women and girls.

She stated that poor menstrual health and hygiene undermine the fundamental human rights of women and girls, exacerbating social and economic inequalities.

Earlier, the Vice-Chancellor of LASU, Prof. Ibiyemi Olatunji-Bello, represented by the Director of DICT, Prof. Oluwatoyin Enikuomehin, underscored that menstrual health affects not only physical well-being but also academic performance, mental health, and social participation of productive minds.

The 400 students of LASU International School were gifted menstrual pads as well as education pamphlets addressing frequently asked questions on menstrual health.

The boys were encouraged to paint forward by gifting the girls and women in their lives. A pack of “Blooming Flow” guide to puberty was also donated to the school library to aid their comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) curriculum

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