Health Ministry Commits To Improve Menstrual Health

The Ministry of Health has reaffirmed its commitment to improving menstrual health and hygiene across the nation as the world celebrates Menstrual Hygiene Day, commemorated every 28th day of May.

State Department for Public Health and Professional Standards Principal Secretary (PS) Mary Muthoni Muriuki said that this year’s theme focuses on making Kenya period-friendly, ensuring every woman and girl has access to the necessary resources and support for managing menstruation with dignity and safety.

The PS explained that since 2014, Kenya has commemorated Menstrual Hygiene Day to highlight the importance of proper menstrual practices and to work towards a period-friendly nation. Efforts include providing accurate information on menstruation, ensuring access to affordable menstrual products, promoting sanitation facilities, and implementing sustainable waste management practices.

‘Kenya’s Three-Pronged Approach to Menstrual Management includes breaking the silence, promoting open discussions about menstruati
on to eliminate stigma, and educating girls and women about this natural biological process,’ said Ms. Muriuki.

She highlighted that other efforts include hygienic and safe management by ensuring access to water, washing materials, private spaces for menstrual management, pain management at home and in public spaces, and overall healthcare.

Ms. Muriuki added that they also advocate for safe reuse and disposal through environmentally friendly methods for the reuse, collection, and disposal of menstrual waste.

According to the PS, Kenya launched its MHM policy on May 28, 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic. While significant strides have been made, including the integration of MHM into various government activities and projects, continued support and improvement are needed.

‘Research conducted by the Ministry of Health in 2016 highlights challenges faced by Kenyan girls and women regarding menstrual health and hygiene. Key findings include a reliance on disposable pads among 46% of respondents, with 54% of K
enyan girls experiencing challenges accessing menstrual hygiene management (MHM) products,’ said Ms. Muriuki.

She said that the lack of access to MHM products is associated with risky sexual behavior, with some resorting to unsafe methods or engaging in transactional sex to acquire them.

The PS added that 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,’ explained the PS.

She highlighted that the Ministry has made strides in providing accurate information on menstruation to dispel myths and taboos. It has developed and launched a menstrual hygiene management teachers’ handbook to support this component in primary schools.

Ms. Muriuki added that efforts have been made to ensure affordable access to quality menstrual products and to promote sanitation facilities th
at offer privacy and support.

‘Sustainable menstrual waste management practices have been implemented, integral to the Ministry’s ‘Epuka Uchafu Campaign,’ aimed at improving overall hygiene and health standards,’ said the PS.

Additionally, the PS said partnerships with organizations such as USAID, Amref, and UNICEF have been crucial in supporting counties to implement the MHM policy, with anticipation of further support from the Sanitation and Hygiene Fund.

She said that a call to action is issued 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 endeavors, progress assessment meetings, and strengthening the market base for MHM products and services,’ said Ms. Muriuki.

She assured that the Ministry of Health remains committed to creating a supportive environmen
t 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.

Source: Kenya News Agency