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Ministry reports achievements in menstrual hygiene education, access

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In celebration of Menstrual Hygiene Day, the Ministry of Health has reaffirmed its dedication to enhancing menstrual health and hygiene across the nation.

According to PS Mary Muthoni, the Ministry is emphasizing this year’s theme of making Kenya period-friendly, aiming to ensure that every woman and girl has access to the necessary resources and support for managing menstruation with dignity and safety.

Since 2014, Kenya has commemorated Menstrual Hygiene Day to highlight the importance of proper menstrual practices and to work towards a period-friendly nation.

The Ministry’s efforts include providing accurate information on menstruation, ensuring access to affordable menstrual products, promoting sanitation facilities, and implementing sustainable waste management practices.

Through a statement, the Ministry outlined Kenya’s three-pronged approach to menstrual management: promoting open discussions about menstruation to eliminate stigma and educate girls and women; ensuring access to water, washing materials, private spaces for menstrual management, pain management, and overall healthcare; and implementing safe, environmentally friendly methods for the reuse, collection, and disposal of menstrual waste.

Recalling the launch of the MHM Policy on May 28, 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry also noted significant strides made, including the integration of MHM into various government activities and projects.

However, they emphasized the need for continued support and improvement.

The Ministry referenced research conducted in 2016, which highlighted the challenges faced by Kenyan girls and women regarding menstrual health and hygiene.

Key findings revealed a reliance on disposable pads among 46% of respondents, with 54% of Kenyan girls experiencing challenges accessing menstrual hygiene management (MHM) products.

The lack of access to these products is associated with risky sexual behaviour, with some resorting to unsafe methods or engaging in transactional sex to acquire them.

Additionally, poor WASH conditions in schools further exacerbate challenges, hindering girls’ education and attendance.

Despite efforts, including the provision of sanitary pads in schools, more than half of menstruating Kenyan girls and women (65%) still lack sustainable access to safe menstrual products.

Achievements reported by the Ministry include providing accurate information on menstruation to dispel myths and taboos and developing a menstrual hygiene management teachers’ handbook to support primary schools.

Efforts have been made to ensure affordable access to quality menstrual products and to promote sanitation facilities that offer privacy and support.

Sustainable menstrual waste management practices have been implemented as part of the Ministry’s ‘Epuka Uchafu Campaign,’ aimed at improving overall hygiene and health standards.

Partnerships with organizations such as USAID, Amref, and UNICEF have been crucial in supporting counties to implement the MHM policy, with further support anticipated from the Sanitation and Hygiene Fund.

The Ministry issued a call to action to organizations and implementers to support county-level implementation of the MHM Policy, lobby the National Government for full policy implementation, and support the establishment of the National MHM Task Force.

Opportunities for partnership and collaboration include joint learning, research endeavours, progress assessment meetings, and strengthening the market base for MHM products and services.

Reiterating its commitment, the Ministry emphasized the goal of creating a supportive environment where every woman and girl can manage menstruation with dignity and safety, envisioning a future where menstruation is not a barrier to education, health, or empowerment.

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