At today’s CIDRZ Research Meeting qualitative researchers Joyce Chinyama Chilekwa, Mercy Mwale and Lisa Chileshe (photo from left) presented preliminary findings of a Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) assessment conducted in Mumbwa District, Zambia. Focus Group Discussions and In-Depth Interviews with male and female students, teachers and parents indicated that there was lack of understanding about menstruation, how, when and who should prepare girls with this knowledge, and scarcity of hygienic and comfortable menstrual sanitary supplies and pain relief for use. Girls indicated that they preferred to stay away from school for the days of their menses for fear of soiling their uniforms and being ridiculed by male peers.
Assessment of school water and sanitation facilities indicated a lack of safe, private, and clean lavatory, hand washing, and appropriate disposal facilities.
The study was undertaken to provide the Ministry of Education task force on improving Menstrual Hygiene Management for school-going girls data to inform the development of MHM guidelines. Improving general understanding about menstruation, and provision of menstrual supplies, and private water and sanitation facilities at schools for girls will improve their school attendance and self-esteem.