WOMEN and girls are still struggling to access sanitary products and the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the situation.
By Phyllis Mbanje
As the world commemorates Menstrual Hygiene Day (MHD), stakeholders in Zimbabwe are concerned about this growing poverty that has taken a huge toll on their efforts to achieve menstrual hygiene.
Unicef country representative Laylee Moshiri said there were many issues hindering young girls from realising their full potential.
Speaking during a virtual celebration of MHD, Moshiri said lack of access to sanitary wear as well as prohibitive costs were a major concern.
“It is a critical area in the lives of our children and women,” Moshiri said.
MHD is a global advocacy platform that brings together voices and action of individuals including girls themselves, non-profit, government agencies, and the private sector to promote good menstrual hygiene management for all women and girls.
The local celebrations also included the launch of the national formative research on menstrual hygiene.
The study, which is the first of its kind, was carried out by the Health ministry and partners such as Unicef, revealed that many girls were still missing out on school during their period.
There were also issues of stigma and cultural practices which disadvantaged the girl child.
As part of its recommendations, the study suggested development of guidelines on menstrual hygiene as well as information.
The study also noted the need for an inter-sectorial approach in dealing with the many gaps and challenges.
It was also suggested that local manufacturing of sanitary wear be supported.
Acting director of family health in the Health ministry Davidzoyashe Makosa said government was committed to a multi-sectorial approach in dealing with the issue.
Speaking during the celebrations, Swedish ambassador to Zimbabwe, Asa Pehrson said menstrual hygiene was a neglected health and development issue. Meanwhile, the Citizens Health Watch (CHW) has said the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened an already desperate situation, especially in resource-poor settings, mostly rural areas and poor urban and peri-urban areas.
“Mobility has been restricted in most communities making it even harder for women to access sanitary products where they are in short supply in some areas,” CHW director Fungisayi Dube said.