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An Educationist, Mrs. Chineyere Godwin-Abba, has urged the Federal Government to help subsidise the cost of sanitary pads for young girls in the country, noting that this will help prevent many girl children from relying on pieces of rags or fabrics for their menstrual flow.
This is even as a gynaecologist with Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Dr. Joy Chionuma, warned that the use of unkempt pieces of fabric could expose young girls to infection.
Godwin-Abba made the call during the donation of sanitary pads to the students of Government Day Secondary School in Abuja.
While encouraging the young girls on the need for proper sanitary hygiene, the proprietress of Alive International School narrated how she could not even afford to procure sanitary materials while growing up.
Godwin-Abba disclosed that she had to rely solely on pieces of clothes torn from her mum’s old fabrics whenever her period arrived.
“I couldn’t even afford menstrual pads. Whenever I was on my period, I would get my mum’s old wrappers, cut them into pieces and use them for my flow.
“After the period, I washed and kept it for use in subsequent months. That continued for almost two years. To tell you how bad it was, I couldn’t even afford good soaps and often relied on ‘soda’ that we used for washing plates to clean up.
“That was my life and it is the reason I am trying to help as many young vulnerable girls as possible with their menstrual hygiene to avoid infections. I had that issue also but over time, I was treated with antibiotics to treat it.
“I don’t really get why there are so many taboos bothering on a menstrual period. It is a normal biological development in the life of every female, every girl. We all menstruate. That’s the way God created us. There should be a lot of awareness, symposiums, health talks, and seminars to blow the lid on the menstrual myth.
“There should be no taboo surrounding it. I will also urge the government to help subsidise the cost of these pads to prevent young girls from using pieces of clothes”
Speaking after receiving the donated sanitary pads, the principal of Government Day Secondary School, Mrs. Blessing Ezendu, also frowned at the use of local fabrics for menses, saying it is not hygienic.
According to her, the Federal Government needs to do more in the arrea of sensitisation and subsidise sanitary pads.
“For me, I would advise that FG should subsidise pads just like they are subsidising condoms. This will help reduce the stress the girl child passes through in buying expensive pads,” she said.
However, the LASUTH gynaecologist has a different opinion concerning the use of fabrics for menstrual flow.
Chionuma told our correspondent that if a rag or piece of fabric is properly kept after use, the risk of infection is reduced.
“The question is, for that age group, can they do that kind of care? Can they wash them properly? In some parts of Africa, that is what they use. But there might be an issue where there is inadequate water supply and a proper disposal system.
“The truth is that the menstruum, which is the blood, is a good culture media for bacteria. When you now have blood on a fabric or a material that is not well disposed of, coupled with the hygiene of the young girl, it provides a good environment for infections to be possible.
“There are all arrays of infections including Staphylococcus, Streptococcus that could result from improper hygiene during menstruations, depending on the immune status of the girl child. But those are normal pathogens that could just be around the skin and the body is supposed to prevent them from infecting the girl child.
“When it becomes superimposed with those infections, it can be life-threatening.
“This is why the advocacy is always in favour of disposable sanitary towels. The advantage some of these towels have is that they are absorbent and can absorb blood while the surface of the pad is dry. We know that the menstruum keeps that place wet and prone to bacteria.
“Again, the girl child having a menstrual flow is supposed to change her sanitary pad every four to six hours so there is not enough time for any of those bacteria to take advantage of the environment to infect the child. It also has to do with the degree of flow. But she must change at least three times a day.
“It is not sufficient just to provide menstrual hygiene materials, it must be done in the context of adequate provision of water for washing, safe disposal, and where the girl child can go in and change without feeling intimidated. That should also be replicated at home.
For instance, if her hands are dirty and she is using a sanitary pad, it is still increasing the risk of infection.”