Health players call for domestication of Menstrual Hygiene Management Policy
Kilifi County health stakeholders are demanding full implementation of the recently launched Menstrual Hygiene Management Policy at the county level.
Apart from cushioning girls from menstrual ills, the policy according to the stakeholders seeks to foster the country’s health and development agenda.
Kenya became the first nation to develop a standalone Menstrual Hygiene Policy through a multi-stakeholder consultative and inclusive process that was unveiled in May 2020 by Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe.
According to Esther Kimani from Zamara foundation, there is a need for Coastal counties to domesticate the policy considering prevailing social, economic, cultural and demographic contexts of women and girls.
“If you look at the policy, there is need for domestication within Kilifi County so that it can suit the specific problems affecting the girl child in the region. By so doing we will do away with the stigmatisation that comes along with menstrual periods,” said Kimani.
Girl child development
Kilifi county water and sanitation Hygiene- WASH Coordinator Omar Sigomba says implementation of the policy will boost the development of the girl child in the County and do away with perennial myths and misconceptions that have taken a toll on the youth generation.
Counties are also tasked with ensuring the provision of menstrual hygiene management facilities, services and products in learning institutions, workplaces and public spaces.
“We are having disposal challenges and as a county, we are keen to do sensitization forums to the girls on safe disposal of the waste. The county is also keen to demystify all myths and stigmatisation that come with the health challenges facing our girls,” said Sigomba.
Zamara foundation, a women-led organisation focusing on young women and girls in Kenya has partnered with Dream Achievers Youth Organisation-DAYO to ensure domestication of the policy within the county level is effected.
The Health Ministry maintain the country’s first Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) Policy and Strategy will provide an opportunity for increased prioritisation of the menstrual hygiene agenda in the country.
In the new policy, counties are required to have a dedicated budgetary allocation for menstrual hygiene management activities including the provision of affordable and easy access to healthcare for menstrual health issues.
The policy also dictates that counties ensure the safe disposal of menstrual waste by executing the guidelines and standards for the management of MHM waste.
The Health Ministry in 2016 commissioned a situation analysis study as a step towards developing the policy.
From the analysis, it was discovered that minimal attention is given to menstrual health and hygiene with adolescent girls and boys reporting that it is shameful to discuss menstruation.
The myths perpetuated by this silence and stigma result in shame and confusion, poor hygiene during the menstrual period, the incidence of urinary tract and vaginal infections, absenteeism from school and work and a sense of poor self-esteem that persists long after menstrual period.