Female students in Torit receive training on menstrual hygiene management

7 Apr 2019

Female students in Torit receive training on menstrual hygiene management

Samira Y Salifu

“Sun dry, sun dry, sun dry!” echoed female students of the Dr John Garang Senior Secondary School in Torit, as they soaked in information during their menstrual hygiene management training.

Although menstrual hygiene management practices vary between and within countries, its features include the use of absorbent material to collect menstrual blood, which can be changed in privacy, associated body washing with soap and water, proper disposal of used material and cleaning of reusable material. Some clinical studies have linked poor menstrual hygiene practices to common infections of the lower reproductive tract such as Candida.

“On one of our community patrols we discovered, to our utmost horror, that some school compounds were littered with used sanitary pads. We knew then that we had to take action,” informed 2nd Lt Randa Hamed Ahmad Al Shoubaki of the United Nations Police.

In Torit, as is generally the case across South Sudan, menstruation is a culturally icky subject – a taboo topic. As a result, most young girls are reluctant to talk about the challenges they face, even though they have little to no information on self-care during their periods.

“Don’t be shy about sharing your menstrual challenges with each other. Just like you would talk about boys, talk about these challenges. You never know where help may come from,” advised Dr Doreen Masika, a representative of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), who facilitated the training session.

Inadequate water and sanitation facilities means most girls of school-going age are disadvantaged during their menstruation and find it difficult to maintain proper hygiene and privacy or regular school attendance.

“Where to change in school during our periods is always difficult. There is no separate washroom for girls. We have to use the only existing latrine with the boys. It is embarrassing when a boy accidentally walks into the washroom,” lamented Christine Francis, the head girl of the school.

In the third of a series of a sensitization campaign for female students on menstrual hygiene management in Eastern Equatoria, organized by UNMISS, 60 female students of the Dr John Garang Senior Secondary School in Torit received training on why menstruation happens and the menstrual cycle, danger signs to look out for such as excessive pain and bleeding, delayed periods and when to seek medical help, as well as training on proper disposal of used pads, and adequate cleaning of reusable absorbent material, including sun drying.

“I can’t afford sanitary pads, so I use a reusable cloth. However, I did not know I had to sun dry my menstrual cloth after washing it to prevent bacterial growth,” said 17-year-old Lona of the school.

The training also provided students with information to dispel myths about menstruation, and cautioned them on the need to wear comfortable clothing and underwear. The United Nations mission continues to provide needed support to schools across Eastern Equatoria on the issue of menstrual hygiene.