By Talatu Maiwada
The AIDS Heathcare Foundation (AHF) is to distribute five million sanitary pads in Africa, to promote menstrual hygiene practices.
Ms Loretta Wong, AHF Deputy Chief of Global Advocacy and Policy made this known in a a statement issued on Friday in Abuja by Mr Steve Aborisade, Advocacy and Marketing Manager of the foundation, to commemorate the 2021 Menstrual Hygiene Day (MH Day).
The MH Day is commemorated annually on May 28, to highlight the importance of menstrual hygiene management that empowers girls to fully participate in the society and live a healthy life.
AHF Deputy Chief, disclosed its theme as: “A Necessity, Not a Luxury!’’ saying the foundation would be launching a campaign to distribute five million sanitary pads across African countries.
“AHF is launching this campaign to help combat stigma that still exists today, and because many women and girls can’t afford them or have inadequate access to menstrual hygiene products.
“Pads are also critical for girls’ education; they could miss 20 per cent or more each school year due to their menstrual cycle, thus widening the education gap between girls and their male counterparts.,’’ Wong stressed.
Dr Penninah Lutung, Bureau Chief AHF Africa, on his part, called on Legislators at all levels to prioritise the essential services and sanitisation infrastructure women and girls need to thrive.
Lutung however, noted that sanitary pads should be considered a necessity, as lack of access to menstrual health and hygiene needs could lead to stigma, harassment, and social exclusion, particularly for adolescent girls.
Dr Echey Ijezie, Country Program Director, AHF Nigeria, said about 1.8 billion girls and women of reproductive age menstruate every month globally, and millions are denied a dignified healthy way of managing their monthly flow.
According to him, poor menstrual hygiene management restricts the mobility, freedom and choices of young women and girls everywhere, thus compromising their safety, while causing stress and anxiety.
“We therefore owe our girls this monthly necessity as the Foundation will be making available over 40, 000 sanitary towels both disposable and reusable to young and indigent girls during the commemoration.
“We will collaborate with our partners to host a menstrual hygiene management session for school girls in Abuja and Benue state as well some girls at Internally Displaced Person’s (IDP) camps in the FCT.
“The foundation will also donate sanitary pads to the Sanitary Pad Bank Initiative of the Federal Ministry of Women’s Affairs,’’ Ijezie said.
NAN reports that AIDS Healthcare Foundation is the largest global AIDS organization which currently provides medical care and services to over 1.5 million clients in 45 countries worldwide including Nigeria. (NAN)