WaterAid Ghana, a Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) focused organisation, has underscored the urgent need for strategic and increased investment towards ensuring menstrual health and hygiene at all levels.
That, the organisation said, would help to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
WaterAid Ghana therefore called for investment in research to produce quality and hygienic reusable sanitary pads to make sanitary pads affordable to vulnerable rural women and girls as part of measures to combat the rising prices of menstrual products.
It also advocated the government through the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) to make adequate budgetary allocations to provide WASH infrastructure, especially at public places including schools and healthcare facilities to enhance convenience and hygiene.
Ms Ewurabena Yanyi-Akofur, the Country Director of WaterAid Ghana, made the suggestions at the commemoration of this year’s Menstrual Hygiene Day, held at Bolgatanga in the Upper East Region on the theme, “We Are Committed”.
It was organised by WaterAid Ghana as part of the implementation of a five-year Sexual Health and Reproductive Education (SHARE) project being rolled out in the Kassena-Nankana and Builsa North Municipals, Kassena-Nankana West and Bongo Districts.
A consortium led by Right to play, an NGO, in partnership with WaterAid Ghana, Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE) and FHI360 are implementing the project with funding support from the Global Affairs Canada.
Ms Yanyi-Akofur explained that people were being left behind in the attainment of the SDGs especially goal three and four which put emphasis on good health and wellbeing, and quality inclusive education for all by 2030 respectively and called for action to address it.
She said apart from intensifying education for traditional authorities to modify certain aspects of the culture that gave rise to discrimination and stigmatisation due to menstruation, there was the need for collaboration to help make sanitary pads affordable for rural poor women and girls.
“There have been arguments around the health of reusable sanitary pads but that does not stop us from using research and technology to see how we can improve it to make it affordable for women and girls.
“We are also asking government, MMDAs, and Ghana Education Service to invest in WASH in our schools, healthcare facilities and our homes so that there will be sustainable water and sanitation facilities for young girls to have their privacy to change and comfortably take care of themselves when they are in their menses,” she said.
Naba Baba Salifu Atamale Lemyaarum, the Paramount Chief of the Bongo Traditional Area, urged the government to scrap the 20 per cent luxury tax placed on sanitary pads to make it affordable to many girls across the country.
In a speech, read on his behalf, Mr Stephen Yakubu, the Upper East Regional Minister noted that menstruation was a normal cycle in young women, however, it had over the years been overlooked with misconceptions and myths furthering their plight.
He identified the inability of girls to afford menstrual products such as sanitary pads as one of the factors that encouraged them to engage in transactional sex leading to the increase cases of teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections including HIV/AIDS.