NGO, Partners Brainstorm On Menstrual Health -Bemoan lack of political will to address problems

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Public Health Initiative Liberia (PHIL) in partnership with WaterAid has ended one-day stakeholders meeting to discuss the findings of a policy gap analysis done on Menstrual Health and Hygiene Management in Liberia.

Menstruating in dignity is part of the fundamental right of girls and women, half of the country’s population. Girls’ ability to manage their menstruation is influenced by broader gender inequities across Liberia and can be hindered by the presence of discriminatory social norms. There are opportunities to leverage Menstrual Health and Hygiene Management as an entry point to sensitive sexual, early childhood marriages, female genital mutilation (FGM), and reproductive health topics, such as reproductive rights, transactional sex, and teenage pregnancy prevention.

Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) is a far-reaching and complex issue that needs to be addressed from various sectors: water, sanitation and hygiene, education, health, gender, protection, and social and economic aspects. As such need, there is a need for a comprehensive policy that addresses all these head-on in Liberia

In furtherance of addressing this head-on, PHIL in partnership with WaterAid Liberia undertook a gap and policy analysis on menstrual hygiene and health management under its HerWASH SRHR project.  Findings from the report revealed, several challenges affecting effective menstrual health and hygiene management in Liberia, including lack of a standalone policy to address menstrual health and hygiene management, limited sector communication and stakeholder engagement, limited coordination and collaboration of actors to address menstrual health and menstrual hygiene management issues, as well as lack of political will to cultivate effective implementation of public policy.

Stakeholders at the meeting included representatives of the Ministry of Health, National Civil Society Council of Liberia, UNICEF, Family Planning 2020 Youth Focal Point, Liberia National WASH Commission, as well as representatives of the Ministries of Health, Education, Youth and Sports, and Gender, Children and Social Protection.

The stakeholders, as part of steps to address the challenges outlined in the report, agreed on the establishment of a menstrual health and menstrual hygiene management technical working group in an effort to identify key stakeholders, and to start an advocacy campaign for a menstrual health policy. They also agreed to draft the policy, hold a national consultation with stakeholders and validate and adapt the policy to guide the sector.

Meanwhile for WaterAid Liberia through its Country Manager, MR. Chuchu Selma expressed satisfaction over the outcome of the stakeholders meeting and the level of work being done by PHIL in the field.

While PHIL Executive Director, Joyce L. Kilikpo for her part and on behalf of her organization thanked the stakeholders for making time for the engagement and their commitment to work towards improve menstrual hygiene and menstrual health management in Liberia.

PHIL is currently implementing HerWASH, menstrual health and menstrual hygiene management program in two districts in Grand Cape Mount County. The project aims to influence policy on menstrual hygiene in Liberia. The program is being supported by Global Affairs Canada, Samavi, and Canada youth through WaterAid Liberia.

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