Comprehensive national health policy needed to address period poverty, says NGO

Sandra Boakye, executive director of Inspire Her also outlined the critical components that a national policy should address, including the production, importation and pricing of menstrual products

Sandra Boakye, executive director of Inspire Her, a non-governmental organisation focused on menstrual health in Ghana, has called for the development of a comprehensive national policy on menstrual health.

She believes such a policy when rolled out will address the multifaceted aspects of menstrual health management in the country.

The United Nations estimates that one in 10 girls in Sub-Saharan Africa misses school during their period, which can add up to as much as 20% of a school year. Even if these girls complete their schooling, they are likely to fall behind boys of their age, exacerbating existing inequalities in educational attainment.

The cost of pads has more than doubled to GHC12 from GHC5 in Ghana, where inflation is about 23.1%. The situation has been compounded by other factors, including taboos and customs.

Sandra Boakye says this could have dire consequences for millions of African girls – impacting their education, health, and dignity, driving them to have transactional sex with older men – and ultimately worsening gender inequality.

“There is no national comprehensive policy on menstrual health which says that this is how menstrual health should be managed,” Boakye told journalists on the sidelines of a trainer of trainers’ workshop organised by World Vision Ghana on Thursday (21 June).

“What the CSOs have done is work with the government to provide menstrual health management guidelines which was done in 2020, but we are talking of a policy that encompasses how education should be done, when and how, and the forms it should take including inclusive education for persons with disability, persons in isolated places”.

She outlined the critical components that a national policy should address, including the production, importation, and pricing of menstrual products.

“And when it comes to products, how are they produced and imported and used? And even the pricing of products – a national policy should spell out all these.

Menstruation is an integral part of our development, and it affects us in several ways. For persons with disability, that is a very pathetic situation. If period poverty among the population is high, you can imagine what happens to persons with disability. Inspire Her has been actively working to alleviate the challenges faced by those affected by period poverty, especially among vulnerable groups”, she shared.

She called on the government, particularly the Ministry of Gender, to re-evaluate and address these critical issues.

“We want to challenge the government through the Ministry of Gender to relook at these things because menstruation is an integral part of our development, and it affects us in several ways.”

The trainer of the trainers’ workshop, spearheaded by World Vision Ghana in partnership with the Ghana Water Journalists Network (GWJN) and the Media Coalition on Open Defecation (M-CoDE). The workshop also focused on Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) policy and strategies for effective media communication and working with the World Vision.

Reporting By Jonathan Ofori, Asaase Newsroom, Kumasi

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