Ignorance related to MHH can be a serious health hazard: Shehla

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In a bid to address the high prevalence of Menstrual Health and Hygiene (MHH) challenges amongst adolescent girls of Pakistan, Santex Products (Pvt.) Ltd., a pioneering female hygiene products company and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), in collaboration with the School Education & Literacy Department, Government of Sindh, announced the launch of #NoChuttiPlus campaign, here today.

The launch event was chaired by Syeda Shehla Raza, Minister for Women Development, Government of Sindh, while senior officials of the provincial government, Chief Field Officer UNICEF (Sindh), Vanessa Lee and Director Operations, Santex Products, Feroz Mujtaba Rahman were present on the occasion.

Stressing the need to educate the adolescent girls about MHH, the Chief Guest, Syeda Shela Raza said, “Since stigma and ignorance related to MHH can be a serious health hazard, we need to raise awareness about safe menstrual health practices and make hygiene products accessible to adolescent girls.”

“Menstrual health and hygiene remains a taboo subject and there is a culture of silence surrounding women’s reproductive health, including menstruation, in some sections of the society, it is therefore imperative that we talk about it and take action to improve girls’ access to the knowledge, tools and facilities they need to manage menstrual hygiene with dignity and confidence.”

As the risks associated with poor hygiene can directly affect reproductive health and cause urinary tract infections, #NoChutti (No holiday) plus campaign, aims to counter the social taboos associated with menstrual health by raising awareness on the subject.

Most girls in Pakistan have no knowledge of issues associated with menstruation and the onset of the first menstrual cycle comes as a shock. Girls often miss school because of shame or lack of adequate facilities to manage their menstrual period. Schools lack proper hygiene facilities while at the same time teachers are often not prepared to respond to girls’ inquiries about menstruation.

As part of its Corporate Social Responsibility, Santex Products and UNICEF’s mandate on Water, Sanitation & Hygiene, #NoChuttiPlus would highlight the issues of lack of awareness and accessibility of Period products. It is estimated that almost two-thirds of teenage girls in Pakistan are ignorant about menstruation before they get their first period. One of the reasons that an estimated 15 million female students are out of school in the country is because adolescent girls are unable to safely manage their periods.

Speaking on the occasion, Director Operations, Santex Products, Feroz Mujtaba Rahman, emphasized the need to push the MHH agenda in Pakistan. He said, “Menstrual Health and Hygiene is a basic human right of the children and the young people. Not many realize but Period-Poverty leads to low self-esteem, social exclusion and absenteeism. Not many have access to products that can help them manage their periodic cycles. By not giving enough care or concern to the prevalent issues, we are endangering our future.”

“Santex is proud to be associated with UNICEF in this noble cause. We are also engaged with relevant government departments to tackle the challenges of menstrual hygiene in the country and hope to be part of a positive change in the future,” he concluded.

In his video message for the occasion, , Deputy Representative for UNICEF in Pakistan, Dr. Inoussa Kaboure said, “UNICEF is committed to supporting the Government of Pakistan  and all stakeholders, , to take action towards ensuring that young women are well aware and prepared for the onset of menstruation as it concerns their health, self-esteem and overall development.”

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