A 2018 Mandela Washington Fellow and a nurse with Ghana Health Service at Pelungu Health Center in the Nabdam District, Maxwell Kumbeni through a reciprocal exchange programme funded by the US Department of State has embarked on menstrual hygiene management project with Junior High Schools in Talensi District in the Upper East Region of Ghana.
The programme which is executed by Maxwell Kumbeni and Karen Lied, a Nurse at Kettle Moraine Middle and High School in Dousman, Wisconsin, USA is to teach girls in the region about menstrual hygiene. According to the mission of the project, menstrual hygiene is inadequately managed by most girls in rural schools in Ghana due to lack of knowledge of self-care practices, lack of sanitary pads, inadequate sanitation facilities in school as well as lack of support from parents.
These factors are known to be contributing to school absenteeism among girls during their menstrual periods. Since 2016, Mr. Kumbeni has volunteered in the area of menstrual hygiene especially among school girls in basic schools in the Talensi District by teaching them menstrual self-care practices and how to manage minor symptoms of menstruation.
“With our current programme we are in 12 Junior high schools in Talensi district and we are distributing to the girls reusable sanitary pads as well as teaching them how to use and maintain them hygienically. We have so far distributed over 700 reusable pads to 10 schools. We are also teaching them how to make their own reusable sanitary pads with local material available to them” Mr. Kumbeni said.
“We are also engaging boys in those schools on the scientific facts of menstruation and how they can support girls to have a comprehensive menstrual management both in school and at home. Parent play an important role in menstrual management and for the first time, we have invited mothers of girls yet to start menstruation and engaged them on the basics of menstruation and menstrual hygiene. This is to enable them support their daughters when they begin to menstruate. The teachers have also been given basic tips on how to support girls during menstruation” Mr. Kumbeni added.
The ultimate goal of this programme is to get all the relevant stakeholders on board to work towards reducing menstrual related school absenteeism. It is not acceptable in this 21st century for a girl to stay away from school because of menstruation and we are working gradually towards eliminating that.