By Mrs Adeyinka
Menstrual hygiene is so important that a day is set aside to mark world menstrual hygiene day. This is a factor that is peculiar to the feminine
Gender but the responsibility should not be left to women alone. Neither should it be left to individuals, parents/guardians alone. Government also has a major responsibility and contribution towards achieving menstrual hygiene. Basic needs for the girl child to achieve menstrual hygiene are access to water, soap and sanitary towel.
In many parts of the country, girls still have to travel far, balancing a heavy load on their heads to get water from streams and boreholes. This is a discouraging factor as it will only lead to a situation where water will be extensively managed since there are competing needs for domestic water. As such menstrual hygiene is very likely to suffer greatly.
Another factor is the affordability of quality menstrual towels which are essential in maintaining proper hygiene during menstruation. Due to the low economic power of many poor families in Nigeria, many families result in use of only tissue paper and old fabrics by their girls to maintain dryness during menstruation. This has been a major source of infection to many girls.
The government has a major responsibility in ensuring proper menstrual hygiene by ensuring access to potable water by her citizens. More so, if condoms can be distributed freely to discourage spread of STDs and HIV which is from sexual intercourse, an act that is optional and controllable, it makes a lot of sense for government to encourage or involve in free distribution of sanitary towels for menstruation which is not an optional occurrence and cannot be controlled.
The drive for proper menstrual hygiene must be spear-headed by government to encourage other bodies to contribute their quota too.
Internally Displaced Peoples (IDP) camps are also vulnerable spots, and so should not be left out in the promotion of menstrual hygiene.
As responsible citizens, we also need to contribute towards achieving proper menstrual hygiene by raising our awareness level and more importantly pressure government at all levels to take the matter of menstrual hygiene more seriously especially in vulnerable areas and communities.